The Florida Gators improved their record to 4-0 with a 13-3 win over host USF (2-2) on Wednesday night. It is the first time Florida has started 4-0 since 2011 when they went to the College World Series. The Gator bats stayed hot, hitting affectively with two-outs all night but they didn’t need to do much hitting after getting a spectacular start from sophomore Brett Morales.
Morales — a Tampa native who went to King High School — showed promise during his freshman season, posting a 6.56 ERA on the year, but didn’t allow a run in four appearances against SEC foes. Morales was originally scheduled to throw against FAMU on Tuesday but had his start bumped back a day when the Tuesday contest was drowned out by rain.
The sophomore made the most of his first start of the season, throwing six innings of perfect baseball. Morales faced 18 batters, retiring all of them in order before being pulled after reaching his pitch count. Morales struck out seven Bulls — a career high — and pounded the strike zone.
“That was as good of a start as I’ve seen in quite some time. Brett kept USF hitters off-balance and he was able to mix all of his pitches early in the count,” head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “He was really sharp, I was pleased at how he threw. It was hard to take a pitcher out with a perfect game through six. It’s early in the year and you have to look at the big picture. Brett was outstanding.”
The bats gave Morales an early lead and cushion, scoring in the very first frame. Buddy Reed began the hitting with a one-out single before swiping second base. Richie Martin reached on a throwing error to bring up the red-hot bat of Harrison Bader. The reigning SEC Player of the Week doubled to right field to plate both Reed and Martin.
Florida would add a run in the second frame to extend their lead to three as Morales kept mowing down batter after batter.
The score remained 3-0 into the fifth frame where Reed and Martin went down quietly before Bader’s second hit of the game gave Florida life. Freshman JJ Schwarz launched a 2-0 offering over the left field wall — into a 13 MPH cross wind — for his second home run of the season, giving Florida a 5-0 advantage.
Danny Young replaced Morales on the mound in the bottom of the seventh and struggled in his first outing of the season. Young gave up three hits, two runs (unearned), and walked a batter before being yanked after throwing 33 pitches getting just two outs. Kirby Snead relieved him and struck out the only batter he faced.
Florida responded with seven runs in the next frame — all with two outs.
The Gators will host Miami this weekend with the Canes coming off of a loss at FAU on Wednesday.
- Freshman JJ Schwarz had a career-high five RBI on Wednesday — including his second home run of the year. Four of Schwarz’s five hits this season have gone for extra bases.
- Buddy Reed’s three hits matched a career-high.
- Brett Morales pitched six perfect innings to earn the first win of his collegiate career and his seven strikeouts were a career-high.
- Harrison Bader added to his RBI total and now has 14 through four games.
- The Gators have outscored their opponents 50-8 through four contests.