Gators cruise behind big night at plate

After losing to UCF for the second time on Wednesday, Florida showed up with a new look to open a three-game series against Alabama on Friday night.

The Gators (29-10, 12-4) came out loose and confident and cruised to a 7-0 win thanks to what second baseman Josh Adams called “swag.”

Adams and the Gators took the first game against the Crimson Tide (25-16, 8-8) in dominant fashion.  Florida’s bats were lively and hot as the Gators raked in four runs on 10 hits against Alabama starting pitcher Nathan Kilcrease (5-3).

After Florida went 4-4 on its recent road trip, Adams explained the difference in tonight’s performance was the team’s attitude.

“Our word is swag,” he said. “We came out with a little bit of swag tonight, everybody’s feeling good, and we were just ready to play the game.”

The Gators’ renewed confidence was on full display at the plate.

Adams blasted a three-run homer in the bottom of the seventh and put on an imaginary championship belt as he crossed the plate. 

He wasn’t the only Florida player to do so as Preston Tucker also did it when he belted a two-run shot over the scoreboard in the bottom of the fifth inning to put the Gators up 3-0.

The junior right fielder has had a hot bat recently, knocking out four home runs and racking up 13 RBI in the last three games.

“I feel more relaxed, and obviously a little more confident,” Tucker said, “Fortunately all the balls I’m hitting hard are going out of the ball park.”

Florida’s pitching was excellent again Friday night as sophomore Hudson Randall earned his seventh win of the season after pitching six-and-a-third scoreless innings. 

Randall was backed up by superb defense as the Gators turned two double plays behind the sophomore.

Despite a good overall performance, Randall wasn’t pleased with his outing. After walking just two batters in his first nine appearances this season, he walked two against Alabama.

“I tried to set my goal as 5 or less (walks), and I reached 5 now, so I’m trying not to walk anybody else,” Randall said. “I should have thrown them (ball fours) a little closer, for strikes.”

Although Randall was adamant about walking fewer batters in the future, he was pleased with the win.

Head coach Kevin O’Sullivan was happy with Florida’s aggressiveness at the plate. The Gators finished with 14 hits.

“This was a quality win tonight, Kilcrease is a really good SEC starter,” O’Sullivan said. “He threw strikes, and he’s competitive, but I thought our hitters had a really good plan against him, and I’m proud of how we battled tonight offensively.”

Florida will take on Alabama in the second game of the series Saturday at 6 p.m. at McKethan Stadium. 

UF sophomore pitcher Brian Johnson (5-1) will face Alabama’s Adam Morgan (4-3), who knocked the Gators out of the SEC Tournament last year.