A four run eighth inning propelled the No. 1 Florida Gators (13-1) to a 6-2 road win over the North Florida Ospreys (6-7) on Tuesday night in Jacksonville, Florida. Junior right-hander Dane Dunning had a career-night, notching a career-best 10 strikeouts over six innings of work and fellow junior Kirby Snead worked three innings of relief to earn his first win of the season.
Dunning ran into problems in the very first inning. Shortstop Kyle Brook worked leadoff walk and then Corbin Olmstead launched a home run over the left field wall to give the Ospreys a very early two-run lead. Catcher Keith Skinner singled before Dunning was able to work into a groove. A strikeout and a double play ended the first, but Florida wouldn’t get competitive just yet.
The Gators sent nine batters to the plate before recording their first hit. It was Dunning’s first inning that put Florida in a hole but he was sensational the rest of the way, keeping UNF at bay and sitting the side down in order in four of the six innings he pitched.
Dalton Guthrie finally got Florida on the board with a double to start the fourth inning. Buddy Reed dropped a bunt down the third base line for a single before JJ Schwarz struck out for the first out of the inning. Pete Alonso singled to right field, scoring Guthrie and moving Reed to third. Jeremy Vasquez grounded into a double play to end the threat but Dunning struck out the side in the bottom of the fourth to keep momentum squarely in Florida’s dugout.
Mike Rivera, who had been slumping, started the fifth off with a double and was brought home later in the inning on a Jonathan India sacrifice fly.
The score remained tied into the eighth inning before Florida busted it open. Guthrie’s second double, and third hit of the game, with one out opened the rally. Reed singled into left field to give Florida runners on the corners. Schwarz singled home Guthrie and pushed Reed over to second. Alonso doubled home Reed and left Florida with two runners in scoring position. UNF intentionally walked Vasquez to load the bases, setting up a double play and a force at home but it didn’t help because Mike Rivera’s single to right field plated Schwarz and Alonso to extend the lead to 6-2.
Kirby Snead took over for Dunning in the sixth inning. Snead retired all nine batters he faced, throwing just 18 pitches and 17 for strikes.
The win is Florida’s 13th of the season. The Osprey’s will travel to Gainesville on Wednesday night to take on the Gators at McKethan Stadium at 7 p.m.