Hitting is contagious. In the beginning of the season the Gators couldn’t buy a hit. Saturday night they pounded out 16 hits in a 15-1 win over the Yale Bulldogs. In two games against Yale the Gators have 30 hits.
“It’s a confidence booster, I would say. As of lately we’ve been hitting really well,” Nelson Maldonado, who was 3-4 with a home run on Saturday, said. “We’ve had a really good approach at the plate and we’re doing what needs to be done at the plate.”
That may be an understatement. Florida’s early season offensive woes are a distant memory. The Gators are scoring runs at a feverish pace.
Since the calendar flipped from February to March the Gators are hitting .369, have scored 87 runs (12.4 per game) and have slugged 14 home runs. That’s in stark contrast to a .238 average with 47 runs and just three long balls in the entire month of February.
“One of you (media) guys said the other day that hitting was contagious,” Maldonado said. “I’m hoping to spread that throughout the team and I hope that sparks something in the dugout.”
It didn’t take Florida long to get on the board Saturday. A day after recording his 200th career hit Nelson Maldonado launched a line drive home run into the left field bleachers, his second dinger in as many days. Austin Langworthy single after him and freshman Jud Fabian brought two more runs in with his team-high third home run of the season.
Florida tacked on two more in the third inning but really busted the game wide open in the fifth after Yale was able to scratch out a run. Florida took advantage of one Yale error but pounded out six hits to score eight runs and take a 13-1 lead.
Sophomore Jack Leftwich started the game for the Gators and, even though he’s been dealing with a blister issue on his right throwing hand, pitched well. Leftwich lasted five innings, struck out five while scattering eight hits on the way to his fourth win of the season.
The 15-1 win on Saturday clinched another series for Florida. The Gators and Bulldogs will meet on the diamond at 1 pm on Sunday for the series finale. Next week Florida will host Florida State and begin SEC play with Mississippi State. O’Sullivan spent his entire post game meeting with his team imploring them to not look forward past Sunday’s series finale.
“They’ve gotta take care of business. We’ve got to continue to get better,” O’Sullivan said. “Obviously we’ve got Florida State on Tuesday but that has noting to do with tomorrow.”