Hitting is contagious and right now the Gators’ entire lineup is on fire. The Florida Gators improved to 4-0 on Tuesday night with a 13-3 win over Jacksonville on the road.
The 13 runs bring No. 2 Florida’s total to 47 in four games. It’s the second-most runs scored through four games in Kevin O’Sullivan’s 13 seasons (Florida scored 50 through four games in 2015).
The bulk of Florida’s runs came in a seven-run outburst in the sixth inning. It wasn’t all the Gators’ offense that pushed the runs across, they were handed four runs by the Dolphins.
“The bottom line is we probably got help with some walks. But it’s the first road game. We’ve been up here over the years with some really good teams and haven’t played particularly well at times,” “O’Sullivan said. “Early in the year, the way we’re swinging the bats and playing defense, getting a lot of contributions from a lot of different pitchers, so far so good.”
The Gators’ started the frame with three singles from Josh Rivera, Cal Greenfield, and Jud Fabian, then the walkathon began. Austin Langworthy, Kirby McMullen, and Cory Acton all walked consecutively to plate three runs. Jacob Young welcomed a new pitcher to the game with an RBI single and Nathan Hickey walked to score one more. It was a complete collapse from the JU bullpen and the Gators’ — who have earned 31 walks this season — took advantage.
The night began with heralded freshman Hunter Barco taking the mound in his hometown of Jacksonville. The lefty was wild early but worked out of jams in the first and second innings, stranding four runners through two frames.
“It’s his first collegiate start, and it’s at home (in Jacksonville),” O’Sullivan said. “He had a bunch of family and friends here. Thought he handled it well. Wanted to keep his pitch count to about 45.”
Barco lasted just two innings, throwing 48 pitches in the process but didn’t allow an earned run in his first start. He’s also in line to start on Sunday afternoon when the Gators travel to Miami to take on the No. 1 Hurricanes.
Florida’s bullpen was stellar in relief on Tuesday, especially sophomore Justin Alintoff. The right-hander threw a career-high 3.2 innings and struck out six in the process.
Sophomore Jud Fabian led the Gators’ offense with a 3-5 night and two RBI. He’s 8-19 (.421) on the season and continues to play a gold glove center field. Freshman Josh Rivera got out of the gates slow on opening weekend but had a night to remember. The shortstop was 3-4 with two runs scored and two RBI against JU.
The Gators will host Jacksonville at McKethan Stadium on Wednesday night at 6:00 pm before heading south on the Turnpike for a weekend battle between No. 1 and No. 2.