7-run fifth inning lifts Gators past FSU

A home run derby erupted at McKethan Stadium before the No. 2 Florida Gators hung seven in the fifth inning on the No. 2 Florida State Seminoles to take the first game of the Sunshine Showdown 12-6 on Tuesday night.

The win is the sixth straight in the series for the Gators, a series record for UF, who have also been winners in 11 of the last 12 matchups.

FSU came out of the gates hot with two home runs, back-to-back, off of freshman starter Jordan Butler in the top of the first. The Gators halved that 2-0 deficit with a Jonathan India solo home run in the top of the second.

The Noles got back after Butler in the third to the tune of two more runs. Mike Salvatore doubled with one out and Rhett Alpin launched a two-out home run, his second of the game, to right field to give FSU a 4-1 advantage.

“There was no panic in the dugout,” Kevin O’Sullivan said after the game. “We just started to chip away.”

Nick Horvath started that chipping with a single in the bottom half of the third. Austin Langworthy singled to give Florida two on and after a Wil Dalton fielder’s choice the Gators had runners on the corners. Nelson Maldonado singled and JJ Schwarz grounded out but the two and three-hole hitters both recorded RBIs, trimming the Nole lead to 4-3.

Then the fifth inning came and with it an avalanche of Florida hits and runs.

Langworthy doubled, Dalton walked and Maldonado singled to load the bases for Schwarz. The captain just missed a grand slam, settling for a game tying RBI sacrifice fly.

India was hit by a pitch to load the bases again and Deacon Liput’s groundout gave Florida a 5-4 lead, one it wouldn’t relinquish but the Gators were far from done. Blake Reese was plunked to load the bases for a third time in the inning and Keenan Bell made it 7-4 with a double down the left field line. FSU pitcher Joe Scolaro fell behind 3-0 to Bell then worked the count back to 3-2.B Bell shortened his swing and went with the 3-2 offering, a textbook piece of hitting.

Nick Horvath (3-4 on the night) doubled home both Bell and Reese. Horvath has 20 hits already this season, more than his sophomore and juniors seasons combined.

A seven spot in the fifth was more than enough. Florida added one more in the sixth and India blasted his second home run of the game in the eighth.

The Gators will open up SEC play on the road this weekend against South Carolina (11-5).

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Nick de la Torre
A South Florida native, Nick developed a passion for all things sports at a very young age. His love for baseball was solidified when he saw Al Leiter’s no-hitter for the Marlins live in May of 1996. He was able to play baseball in college but quickly realized there isn’t much of a market for short, slow outfielders that hit around the Mendoza line. Wanting to continue with sports in some capacity he studied journalism at the University of Central Florida. Nick got his first start in the business as an intern for a website covering all things related to the NFL draft before spending two seasons covering the Florida football team at Bleacher Report. That job led him to GatorCountry. When he isn’t covering Gator sports, Nick enjoys hitting way too many shots on the golf course, attempting to keep up with his favorite t.v. shows and watching the Heat, Dolphins and Marlins. Follow him on twitter @NickdelatorreGC