COURTESY OF UAA COMMUNICATIONS
UNF (26-14, 7-2 A-SUN) got on the board first, but Florida (25-12, 8-7 SEC) scored a run in the fourth and fifth and used a strong bullpen effort to hold on for the win.
JJ Schwarz’s RBI double in the fourth tied the game and Keenan Bell scored the winning run on Guthrie’s single.
The Gators bullpen pitched six scoreless innings, led by senior Frank Rubio’s career-long outing. Rubio entered in the fourth and pitched 4.0 scoreless frames with three strikeouts and just two hits allowed to earn the win.
UNF used three-straight singles in the fourth inning to take a 1-0 lead. Christian Diaz’s RBI single scored Alex Merritt to give the Ospreys the lead.
The Gators tied it in the bottom half of the inning. Austin Langworthy led off the inning with a single and scored on Schwarz’s team-high 26th RBI of the season.
An inning later, Florida took the lead courtesy of Guthrie’s two-out single. Bell, who reached on an error, scored to give the Gators a 2-1 lead.
Freshman Garrett Milchin retired the side in order in the eighth inning and Michael Byrne pitched a scoreless ninth for his sixth save of the season.
Nate Brown, making his fourth start of the season, went three innings and allowed one run on six hits.
Florida will host No. 18 South Carolina for an important Southeastern Conference series beginning Thursday at McKethan Stadium. The opener will air live on ESPNU at 7:30 p.m.
Friday’s game starts at 7 p.m. (SEC Network) and Saturday’s finale is at noon (ESPN2).
Head Coach Kevin O’Sullivan Quotes:
“Start with the pitching, we got three solid innings from Nate. Then Rubio was awesome, he’s probably the reason why we won the game. He ate up four innings and really sunk the ball, made some quality pitches. We played solid defense behind him. I continue to be impressed with how Garrett continues to improve and obviously Michael at the end. It’s coming together. The bullpen is coming together. I think Nick Horvath’s been throwing the ball well from the left side for us.
“It was good. It was a really good pitching performance. UNF historically has always given us trouble. I don’t know the last time we held them to one run, a low scoring game like this. It’s usually a high scoring game. One of those midweek game with a lot of hits. They’re top 10 in hits in the country, so to do that tonight was good.
“Offensively, it was a tough night to hit. We had different looks out of the pen that we don’t usually see on the weekend. The starting pitcher, we don’t see those types of guys. We had a hard time adjusting. Credit their guy. He did a nice job.
“JJ had the clutch RBI double to left center field. Keenan had a nice line drive back up the middle. Dalton had another two-hit night and an RBI as well. Christian Hicks hit a ball hard to center field that under normal circumstances may have been over the center fielder’s head. Langworthy had another hit and hit another ball hard. Kolozsvary had the ball to left center field that would have been a home run on most nights…and the line drive to the third baseman that he hit hard. Larson hit a hard ball to left. We only had six hits, but it was a tough night to hit.
“It was an important game for us. We want to creep back into that Super Regional-type host spot, this is one of those games we needed to win. I told the guys that before the game. We can’t be looking ahead to South Carolina. We all know how important that series is, they all are on the weekends. But this was an important game for us. Luckily enough for us, Frank being a senior, stepped up and gave us a chance to win and held it right there.”