JJ Schwarz stepped into the box with one out and one runner on in the bottom of the first inning hitting just .220 on the season. The junior jumped on the first pitch he saw, launching a two-run home run over the wall in left-center, jumpstarting the Florida Gators 8-0 win over Seton Hall on Friday night.
The home run was the second in as many bats for Schwarz and gave the Gators an early 2-0 lead.
“The first pitch I was just ready for it and put a good swing on it,” Schwarz said.
Seton Hall’s starter, and the owner of the Pirates’ only perfect game in school history; Shane McCarthy struggled to get outs early. The Gators’ next trip to the plate exceeded their first effort.
Austin Langworthy kicked things off with a double laced in the left-centerfield gap. Deacon Liput drove Langworthy in with a single back up the middle before Mike Rivera grounded into a double play. Two outs wouldn’t stop Florida. Blake Reese singled to right field and Dalton Guthrie hit a two-run home run to left field, the first home run Guthrie had hit in his last 116 games played, to give Florida a 5-0 lead.
“We talked extensively on Thursday about things,” manager Kevin O’Sullivan said after the game. “I’ve seen these guys, they haven’t forgotten how to hit. It’s our job as coaches to kind of simplify things and obviously things were a bit confusing and we simplified things.”
On the other side Friday night starter Alex Faedo was lights out. The junior sat down the first nine batters he faced before giving up back-to-back hits to lead off the top of the fourth. Faedo was sable to retire the side neatly but continued to find himself in some difficult situations the rest of his outing.
“I got out of a couple jams and that was nice because the last couple of games there haven’t been that many high pressure situations,” said Faedo. “It was good to work through. I think it was good for the defense too.”
He allowed a leadoff double in the fifth before retiring the next three batters. The sixth is when Faedo really faced adversity. After retiring the first two batters on just seven pitches the right-hander gave up back-to-back singles before walking Mike Caputo. Faedo fell behind Matt Toke 3-0, putting a scoreless streak of more than 20 innings in jeopardy. Faedo battled back with a strike and got Caputo to ground out o first base.
Over his last three starts Faedo has thrown 21.2 scoreless innings, given up just nine hits to 23 strikeouts.
“He’s falling inn line with some of the Friday night guys we’ve had here in the past,” O’Sullivan said. “It’s his turn to kind of take over that role and he’s been great. He’s been really good for us and gives us a chance to win every time he goes to the mound.”
The Gators added a run in the fifth on a Keenan Bell home run and two more in the seventh to close out the 8-0 shutout.
The Gators will host Seton Hall for a double header on Saturday. The first game will begin at 4 pm and the series finale will begin 30 minutes after the conclusion of the first game.