GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Riding an opportunistic offense and pitching that stranded 12 Florida baserunners, Jacksonville University baseball beat the No. 1 Gators in McKethan Stadium on Tuesday night.
JU (25-13) beat UF (32-7) 8-4, its first win vs. a top-ranked team since March 21, 2007 when the Dolphins beat Florida State at home.
"It's a credit to this entire team and locker room," said Head Coach Chris Hayes. "No matter what kind of adversity they face, they are there to pick each other up.
"Tonight was a great exhibition in how this team believes in each other."
FINAL | DOLPHINS WIN! DOLPHINS WINNNN!— JU Baseball (@JUBaseball) April 18, 2018
Jacksonville defeats #1 Florida, 8-4, in Gainesville!
- First win at UF since 2014, first against the No. 1 team since 2007
- Home runs for Evan Fernandez and John Cassala
'Phins in action this weekend at Saint Louis.#JUPhinsUp pic.twitter.com/wsdvHi8rQO
The Dolphins scored runs in four consecutive innings to erase a two-run deficit and break a tie before pulling away for the win.
Florida grabbed an early 1-0 lead when Will Dalton hit a solo-shot to lead off the second. For JU starter Austin Temple, he largely limited the effectiveness of one of the top offenses in the country, allowing only one other hit in three-plus innings of work. Temple's toughest inning was the third, when he walked the bases loaded before an RBI groundout made it 2-0 Florida.
The JU offense got to work in the fourth. Chris Lehane singled, Scott Dubrule walked and Angel Camacho, making his first career start at third base, put the Dolphins on the board. John Cassala, starting at first for the first time in his JU career in place of Camacho, grounded out to drive in another and tie the game, chasing Gator starter Jack Leftwich. Jacob Southern also grounded out two batters later, but Camacho scored and JU led 3-2.
The Gators got one back to even the score again in the bottom of the fourth, when a leadoff double ended Temple's night, before a bunt single off reliever Matt Meyer (1-0) set up an RBI groundout to make it 3-3. Meyer stranded the go-ahead run at second and set up JU to take the lead for good.
Evan Fernandez hit the first pitch of the fifth out to left, his fifth of the year to break the tie. Lehane and Dubrule both singled with one-out before Cassala drove in a second run of the inning to make it 5-3.
"The competiveness of our hitters at the plate in the middle innings in some big spots stood out," said Hayes.
UF got one more in the bottom half, but that was it for the Gator scoring on the night. Jacksonville pitchers would combine to strand 10 Gators on base over the last five innings.
JU tacked on one more in the sixth, after Southern singled to lead it off, was bunted to second, advanced to third on a groundout and scored on a balk. Two more came in the seventh, when Cassala homered, a two-run shot that was his second of the year and capped off a career-high four RBI night.
Greg Shannahan, Trent Palmer and Chris Mauloni combined to keep the Gators scoreless over the last four innings, clinching the win.
"The ability of our guys to execute, pound the zone and keep a really good offensive lineup off-balance all day long was phenomenal," said Hayes.
The win, a third straight over a ranked opponent after last Saturday's wins over Florida Gulf Coast, is the first win over Florida since a 3-2 victory March 21, 2017 at John Sessions Stadium.
Jacksonville stays on the road to face St. Louis in a final non-conference weekend series in the Gateway City starting Friday at 7 p.m.
"We're going to go up and prepare for this weekend like any other conference weekend," said Hayes. "it will be a great test for us to go on the road and continue to work to get better as we approach May."