The No. 7 Florida Gators (24-13) capped of their season-long eight game road trip with an offensive explosion Tuesday night against the Eagles of Florida Gulf Coast University (24-14). Florida tallied 15 hits and seven runs in the contest, easily downing the Eagles and taking the season series against the instate foe.
“This was a really good game for us,” Kevin O’Sullivan said. “I told our guys after the game that I’m proud of the way they played on this road trip. There was no let up tonight. We had some timely hits with two outs, we got some clutch hits there and I thought we ran the bases really well tonight.”
Florida jumped out early thanks to three hits in their first four at-bats. Taylor Gushue lined a ball into left field, scoring Richie Martin all the way from second base. After a quiet second inning, Florida tacked on to their lead with a run in the third inning and two more in the fourth.
Justin Shafer earned his first start of the season, going just two innings before giving way to freshman Kirby Snead. Snead threw a gem, facing just one over the minimum through four innings of work. Snead retired 11 batters in a row after coming into the game in the fourth inning. Snead kept his pitch count low — under 40 pitches — by relying on his defense. Snead forced five fly outs and six groundouts in his four innings of work.
“Kirby Snead was outstanding,” said O’Sullivan. “Four innings and I don’t think he even threw 40 pitches. He’s going to be ready to go this weekend.”
The fifth and sixth innings went quietly, both teams held scoreless before Florida’s batters came to life again.
Harrison Bader got the inning going with a one-out infield single. It was the first of three consecutive singles that ended with Braden Mattson’s first hit of the game to score Bader. A.J. Puk doubled down the left field line to score Gushue and chase Eagle pitcher Sterling Koerner. The pitching change didn’t stop the hit parade as Pete Alonso singled to score Mattson and cap off the three run inning.
FGCU would break up the shutout in the bottom half of the inning but Florida held on for the win.
After eight games on the road Florida will return home this weekend to play host to rival Georgia. The Bulldogs are currently third in the SEC East but trail the Gators by just a game and a half. All three games this weekend will be televised.