It’s been a journey for redshirt freshman Scott Moss to get to Tuesday night. The left-hander has been through two surgeries and spent two seasons on the sidelines waiting for this moment.
Moss threw three innings, notching his first career win, as the No. 1 Florida Gators (28-3) bested Jacksonville (17-11) Tuesday night 7-2. Moss earned the win despite throwing just three innings due to being pulled by a predetermined pitch count, or a “controlled start,” something Moss wasn’t even aware of until after the game.
“I didn’t even know it was my first career win,” Moss said after the game. “It’s a pitch count, but it still goes down as a ‘W.’ It means a lot to me, I’ve worked to get this far, it’s been two years.”
Florida kicked things off in the second inning when Deacon Liput doubled to start the frame and scored five pitches later when catcher Mike Rivera knocked a double of his own. Rivera scored three batters later on freshman Jonathan India’s sacrifice fly to center field, giving Florida a 2-0 advantage.
Meanwhile, Moss was cruising, giving up no hits through three innings of work before handing the ball off to Michael Byrne. The freshman from Orlando gave up the first hit of the night, a double to JJ Gould, but got out of the fourth unscathed.
Florida has had trouble through the first half of the season building on leads but took care of that on Tuesday. Liput walked to start the fourth and moved to second on Jeremy Vasquez’s one-out single through the right side. Nelson Maldonado drove Liput in with a single of his own and Vasquez scored from second when India doubled five pitches later.
“We’ve had maybe a little bit of a history of not scoring for four or five innings,” manager Kevin O’Sullivan said. “Scoring those two runs in the fourth was important.”
On a night where O’Sullivan was trying to some work for his deep pitching staff, Jackson Kowar took over duties on the mound in the seventh. Kowar struggled to find a rhythm out of the bullpen. Seth DeWitt reached on a fielding error by Dalton Guthrie and moved to second when Sam Armstrong drove a fastball into left field for a single. Both runners moved up 90-feet on a wild pitch before Franco Guardascione drove in Jacksonville’s first run on a groundout to short. Kowar struck out Dakota Julylia. Angel Camacho wore a 95 MPH fastball to the rib cage and Nate Ricci walked to load the bases. That was all she wrote for Kowar, who lasted just two thirds of an inning. Dane Dunning earned a ground out to get Florida out of the inning with a 4-1 lead.
The Gators tacked on a run in the seventh with a JJ Schwarz RBI single and once more in the eighth off of Nelson Maldonado’s sixth home run of the season to left field.
Shaun Anderson worked a perfect ninth inning in a non-save situation to close things out.
The win extended Florida’s school record consecutive wins at home streak to 28-games. The Gators will host the No. 5 Mississippi State Bulldogs for a three-game series at McKethan Stadium starting on Friday.