No. 3 Florida rebounds, beats No. 18 UCF with balanced attack
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- No. 3 Florida (11-2) scored seven runs over the first four innings in a 10-2 victory against No. 18 UCF (11-2) on Wednesday night at McKethan Stadium. Eight of the nine UF starters had at least one hit and sophomore Kirby Snead (1-0) pitched 2.1 scoreless innings as the Gators split the mid-week series with the Knights by reaching double-digits in runs for the fifth time this season.
The Gators grabbed a 2-0 lead in the first inning against UCF freshman Eric Hepple (1-1), with sophomore Buddy Reed and junior Harrison Bader (1-for-2, three runs) scoring on wild pitches. Reed had doubled into left center and took third on a wild pitch during ball four to Bader. As Bader stole second base, the throw went into center field, enabling Reed to come across and Bader to reach third. Another wild pitch on ball four to junior Richie Martin allowed Bader to score.
Freshman Christian Hicks (1-for-4, two runs, two RBI) gave UF a 3-0 margin in the second inning with a ground ball that plated senior Josh Tobias (2-for-4, two runs), who had roped a one-out triple into right center field.
Bader lined his sixth homer of the campaign into the left-field bleachers off of senior reliever Tanner Olson with one down in the third inning for his team-leading 20th RBI.
Senior Dylan Moore started the fourth with a round-tripper to left field for the Knights’ initial hit of the game against sophomore Brett Morales, closing the gap to 4-1. Senior Erik Barber singled to left with one down and senior Tommy Williams had a two-out base-hit into left field, prompting a pitching change. Snead took over for Morales (3.2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 3 K) and issued a walk that loaded the bases before having freshman Kyle Marsh fly out to left field.
Florida answered with three runs on three hits in the bottom of the frame to build a 7-1 advantage. Tobias led off with a single and reached third on a failed pickoff throw by redshirt junior Ryan Meyer. Hicks collected his second RBI of the night with a single to score Tobias. After freshman Dalton Guthrie (2-for-5) singled through the left side, a wild pitch advanced both Guthrie and Hicks into scoring position. A fielder’s choice by Reed brought home Hicks and Guthrie scored on a wild pitch by sophomore reliever Drew Faintich.
Sophomore Ryan Larson legged out a bunt single to start the Gators’ sixth, took second on a throwing error on the play and increased the tally to 8-1 by coming home on a fielding error on a ball struck by Hicks. Martin delivered a two-out RBI single to bring in Hicks and freshman JJ Schwarz (2-for-4) followed with a base-knock up the middle to score Bader.
Sophomore Eugene Vazquez connected on a homer with one down in the eighth to finalize the 10-2 count.