Schwarz leads Florida Gators to comeback win over Ole Miss

The No. 7 Florida Gators (34-13, 15-8 SEC) baseball team relied on seven unanswered runs to come back and take the series over the Ole Miss Rebels (29-19, 11-12 SEC) with a 7-4 win on Saturday.
Until recent weeks, Florida’s offense has been unreliable and inconsistent to say the least, but it is finally starting to reach its stride. Now on an eight-game winning streak, the Gators are more confident than they have been all season.
With Saturday starter Brady Singer on the mound, the Rebels found a rhythm early. Leadoff batter Tate Blackman singled on the very first pitch of the game and Ole Miss went on to score its first two runs on a two out double in the first inning.
Bryan Seamster led off the second inning with a double to left center and made his way around to score on a sacrifice fly from Grae Kessinger to put the Rebels up 3-0. Singer looked to be settling in after tacking on two strike outs in a quick third inning, but Seamster and Kessinger came together for an unearned run in the fourth.
On offense, to that point, the Gators had reached base in every inning but hadn’t done enough to score. Then the fifth inning came around and the bats finally found some life.
Back-to-back singles from Mark Kolozsvary and Ryan Larson and a walk by Dalton Guthrie loaded the bases with no outs. Ole Miss starting pitcher Ryan Rolison looked gassed, struggling to find the strike zone, but he was left in long enough for Austin Langworthy to hit into a fielder’s choice that plated Kolozsvary for Florida’s first run.
The Rebels entered Brady Feigl in relief of Rolison and he received a warm welcome from JJ Schwarz, who doubled to left center to score Langworthy and Larson, making it a one-run game going into the sixth inning.
Singer finished his night with three more strong innings, pitching through the seventh after a rough start to the game.
“The line may not show that was his best game pitched all year, but I think mentally he kept us in the game, didn’t hang his head, stayed with it and just gave our offense a chance to kind of creep back into it,” head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “That’s a sign of maturity. It’s a 9-inning ballgame, and I’m awfully proud of the way he pitched.”
The Gators backed him up by tying the game in the bottom of the seventh.
Schwarz came through once again with a one-out single, followed by a Nelson Maldonado walk and Jonathan India smacked a single right back up the middle to bring Schwarz home from second with two outs.
Chances for taking the lead in the eighth inning were looking bleak after the Gators made two quick outs, but a clutch single from Guthrie started Florida’s rally. Langworthy walked to put runners on first and second with Schwarz up to bat.
After battling off several pitches from the hard throwing Dallas Woolfolk, Schwarz went with the ball to line a single into right field and score Guthrie for the go-ahead run.
“That was probably my favorite single I’ve ever hit,” said Schwarz on his eventual game-winning RBI.
With Langworthy on third, Schwarz attempted a steal, trying to bait a throw from the pitcher, but Ole Miss didn’t take the bait, so the Gators had runners on second and third.
The play ended up paying off as Maldonado singled up the middle and Florida added a three-run cushion to its lead.
Nick Horvath, who came in to pitch the eighth inning, was rewarded with the win and Michael Byrne got three easy outs in the ninth, earning his 12th save of the season.
Seven of Florida’s nine batters finished with at least one hit in the game. JJ Schwarz, the obvious MVP of the game, and Mark Kolozsvary were both 3-for-4 at the plate.
After two games in the series, Florida’s offense has scored 18 runs against the SEC’s best ERA pitching staff. The Gators will look to keep the bats going as they seek the sweep of the Rebels at 2 p.m. at McKethan Stadium on Sunday.