JJ Schwarz was in unchartered territory. Entering his fourth and final at bat on Saturday night he was 7 for his last 41 appearances, a slim .171. A bloop single found the chalk in right field, hardly the hardest ball Schwarz has hit the season, but it made all the difference.
Schwarz parlayed that bloop single on Saturday into a 2-4 day with two RBI in a 10-7 win over No. 1 Texas A&M (22-6, 4-5 SEC) that gave the No. 2 Florida Gators (27-3, 7-2 SEC) a series sweep.
“It takes all the pressure off your shoulders,” Schwarz said of his hit Saturday. “All the frustration, all the line outs and everything it just all makes up for it. One little blooper.”
Florida needed the bats, Schwarz’s included, to come away with the Sunday sweep. The Gators posted two runs in the bottom of the first when Schwarz doubled home Buddy Reed, and later scored on a Mike Rivera single up the middle. Florida starter A.J. Puk lasted just 11 pitches before having to leave the game with back spasms in the second inning. That forced freshman Brady Singer into the game unexpectedly, and the Aggies game him a rough welcome.
Austin Homan singled with one out in the third inning and stole second before Singer plunked J.B. Moss with a 2-1 fastball. Ryne Birk brought both runners home with a double to left and advanced himself to third on a throwing error Dalton Guthrie. Boomer White, who went 8-12 on the weekend, plated Birk with a single of his own. White came around to score two batters later, giving A&M a 4-2 lead on four hits and an error in the frame.
The Gators responded in the fourth with three runs of their own. Rivera walked to start the inning and Jeremy Vasquez advanced him 90 feet with a single. Nelson Maldonado walked, one of 20 walks the Gators earned on the weekend, to load the bases.
Jonathan India moved everyone up a base with a single to center that chased starter Jace Vines from the game. Dalton Guthrie hit a would-be sacrifice fly, scoring Vasquez, but India was thrown out by a great throw from Nick Banks in right field. Buddy Reed drove Vasquez in for the final run of the inning, Florida back on top 5-4.
Jackson Kowar took over for Singer in the fifth and immediately gave up a leadoff triple to J.B. Moss and a two-run home run to Birk, giving the Aggies a 6-5 lead. Michael Barash doubled home White later in the frame to extend the lead.
The Gators kept chipping away, getting runners on base and into scoring position but it was all for not until the seventh. The first two batters were retired quickly before Ryan Hendrix started to wear down. Hendrix walked India, who stole second before a Dalton Guthrie walk. India advanced to third on a wild pitch and Hendrix loaded the bases. Reed dribbled a ball back to the mound, but was too fast for Hendrix to make a play, India scored and Reed was safe by a step at first.
“A thing that may get lost in the shuffle was the hustle play by Buddy Reed to get down the line,” head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said of the play.
Schwarz followed Reed’s hustle up with a RBI single to chase Hendrix from the game. Pete Alonso singled to right, scoring Reed and moving Schwarz to third before a wild pitch advanced JJ home.
Shaun Anderson came on in the eighth inning and earned the save, his sixth, after two innings of two hit baseball with three strikeouts.
The win extended Florida’s record with 27th consecutive home victories (20 this season) and moved O’Sullivan’s record vs. No. 1 ranked teams to 8-1 all time.
Florida will host Jacksonville on Tuesday before welcoming Mississippi State to Gainesville for a three game tilt on the weekend.