Gators walk off on Saturday, sweep Rhode Island

It was the eighth inning when assistant coach Craig Bell walked over to Jordan Butler. Bell told Jordan Butler to “get hot” because he could pinch hit when the Gators came up to bat in the ninth inning.

The moment wasn’t too big for freshman.

Butler watched two off-speed pitches as Rhode Island closer Tyler Barss tried to get the Rams into the 10th inning after Florida had tied the game in the ninth. Then Barss tried to sneak a fastball by Butler but the lefty pulled his hands inside and pulled a ball on the ground.

“He started me off with off-speed pitches and for some reason he came inside with a fastball,” Butler recounted his last at bat. “I just got my hands inside and put it in a spot where we could win.”

Second baseman Josh Brodeur gave chase and made a diving stop, throwing the ball to first from the ground but first baseman Brett McManus had given up on the play and wasn’t there. The result was a RBI single for Butler, who was mobbed by the rest of his team as the Gators walked off with a 3-2 win to clinch a series sweep over Rhode Island.

“It was like nothing I’ve ever experience before,” Butler said after the game. “I haven’t really done anything yet here, I guess, to get the crowd cheering like that. It was awesome.”

The moment wouldn’t have been possible if not for two big hits to start the inning. Jonathan India led the final frame off with a double to give the Gators, trailing 2-1, a runner in scoring position. Deacon Liput, who started 0-11 after coming back from a suspension, tied the game with a single back up the middle.

Jackson Kowar earned the start but didn’t factor into the decision. The junior gave up a solo home run in the second before retiring the next 14 batters he faced. Kowar worked into the seventh inning with the score tied at one before the wheels fell off. A leadoff singled was compounded by a walk to the following batter, and two batters later the bases were loaded when Kowar plunked Sonny Ulliana. A sacrifice fly gave Rhode Island the lead before Kowar navigated out of the inning. Freshman Jack Leftwich came on in relief and put two zeroes on the board to earn the win, his second on the season.

First Game – Florida 9 Rhode Island 2

Austin Langworthy’s double in the first inning gave Florida a 2-0 lead that they would never relinquish. The second inning padded that lead starting with freshman catcher Brady Smith’s double down the right field line. Smith advanced to third on a throwing error and scored one batter later when Nick Horvath doubled to left center. Wil Dalton was hit by a pitch and two batters later JJ Schwarz’s two out single plated Horvath. Jonathan India doubled to score two more and extend the lead to 6-0.

Tyler Dyson cruised through most of his day. The sophomore threw 6.1 innings striking out six but walked a season high three batters.

“I thought Tyler battled with maybe not his best stuff,” O’Sullivan said.

Freshman Hunter McMullen relieved Dyson and finished out the final 2.2 innings. Florida tacked on two runs in the fourth inning and one more in sixth to cap their scoring at nine. The Rams scored for the first time this weekend in the seventh and the eighth, both unearned.

Florida will host Florida State on Tuesday night at McKethan Stadium at 6 pm.

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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