Five batters had multi-hit games led by Pete Alonso’s two doubles and JJ Schwarz’s first home run of the season as the No. 1 Florida Gators (4-0) beat the Eastern Michigan Eagles (3-2) 12-4 on Tuesday night in McKethan Stadium.
Dane Dunning earned his first start of the season and had a shaky first inning. Dunning gave up a leadoff double to Eagle shortstop Marquise Gill, who scored two batters later.
Florida’s bats were quick to pick up Dunning, who had dozens of major league scouts on hand to watch him throw, in the bottom half of the first frame. Dalton Guthrie singled to start the game but was picked off at first. With one out Buddy Reed walked and advanced to second on a Schwarz single. Jeremy Vasquez was hit by a pitch to load the bases for Alonso, who drove a fastball deep to right center, plating two. Freshman Deacon Liput kept his weekend hot streak rolling with a two-run double of his own, extending the Florida lead to 4-1.
“He’s just got a really good, flat swing and he’s aggressive,” head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said of Liput. “When the ball’s in the strike zone and you have a flat swing there’s a lot of hard contact. He’s been doing that the whole preseason too.”
After giving up an infield single in the top of the second, Guthrie settled down. The junior got a pop out and a double play to get out of the second, and retired the side in order in the third inning before Florida’s offense exploded.
Schwarz and Vasquez walked to start the frame and both scored when Alonso launched his second double into left field giving Florida a 6-1 lead. Liput’s second high of the game gave Florida runners on the corners and freshman Danny Reyes earned his first career RBI with a groundout to score Alonso. Guthrie drove in two more runs before getting caught in a rundown between first and second for the final out of the inning. With a 9-1 lead the Gators never looked back.
Dunning worked into the fourth inning, giving up a run and leaving the bases loaded before he was removed at pitch count. Freshman Brady Singer replaced him, earning a strikeout to get out of the bases loaded jam. Singer worked 1.1 innings of shutout baseball before Shaun Anderson, Kirby Snead and Hunter Bowling combined to finish off the game for the Gators.
O’Sullivan used the midweek blowout to get some extra players in. Florida used 18 batters in total.
Both the Gators and Eagles will travel down to Lakeland on Wednesday for the second game of the series. Scott Moss will earn the start for Florida. Moss spent the first two years of his collegiate career on the sidelines due to injury, but worked one inning over the weekend, striking out two.
“It will be exciting to get him back out there,” O’Sullivan said of Moss. “I know a lot of the guys are pulling for him. It’s kind of neat. Our guys, we all do, but his teammates are really pulling for him. It’s been a long two years for him.”