This Florida Gators 10-3 win over Jacksonville was sponsored by the long ball, a theme for the Gators this season. The Gators hit three home runs on Wednesday night against Jacksonville, bringing their total to 36 on the season, 1.57 per game.
“I think it’s more of a mindset,” Deacon Liput said. “I think a lot of the older guys are doing a really good job of staying in their legs and, believe it or not, not trying to do too much, which is resulting in everybody having a good swing, putting good swings on balls.”
Florida’s 36 home runs are more than double the pace the 2017 National Champion Gators per game. In comparison the Gators had just 17 home runs at this point of the season and it took Florida 48 games to hit 36 home runs last season.
Jacksonville starter Spencer Stockton started the night strong. The senior retired the side in order in the first inning on seven pitches and worked three scoreless innings before the Gators got on the board. It was a 0-2 hanging off-speed pitch that JJ Schwarz hit over the wall in left field to open the scoring. Three singles later and Florida added another run to extend its lead to 2-0.
On the other side freshman Hunter McMullen earned the first start of his career, lasting three innings before hitting his pitch count and giving way to Andrew Baker, who earned his second win of the season.
Florida lit the scoreboard up again in the fifth inning via the long ball.
Wil Dalton led the frame off with a home run on the first pitch he saw. The home run is his team leading ninth of the season, something Dalton didn’t do much of growing up.
“I hit two (home runs) my senior year of high school,” he said. “In my high school career, probably six.”
Dalton credited a change in philosophy, similar to Josh Donaldson, to try and swing up on the ball and hit everything in the air. It’s a new way of thinking that is taking over the MLB and something that changed Dalton’s whole game.
Nelson Maldonado followed that home run with a single and moved to third when Jonathan India singled to right field. Liput drove Maldonado in with a deep sacrifice fly to center. Blake Reese got in on the action with a home run that cleared the visitor’s bullpen in right center, making it 6-0. Nick Horvath scored an unearned run in the seventh before Jacksonville finally got to Florida’s bullpen.
The Dolphins scored three runs in the top of the seventh but the Gators matched them with three of their own, including a single from freshman Cal Greenfield that scored Austin Langworthy to give Greenfield his first career RBI.
The No. 2 Gators will host No. 4 Arkansas this weekend at McKethan Stadium starting Friday night at 6:30. Saturday and Sunday have noon first pitches.