Monday, March 6, 2017

UF Baseball: No. 2 Florida vs Columbia Series Recap

The No. 2 Florida Gators (10-2) remained unbeatable at home this past weekend as they swept all three games against the Columbia Lions (0-3). Here's a breakdown of each game.

Game 1 (March 3rd)
With the Mac a little less packed due to spring break starting at UF, the No. 2 Florida Gators (8-2) regained their offensive prowess that was lost in Orlando as they beat the Columbia Lions (0-1) by a score of 7-0.

Ace pitcher Alex Faedo (2-0, 1.77 ERA) took the mound for the series opener and was nothing short of fantastic in his second win of the year. In seven shutout innings, Faedo allowed just two hits while striking out nine Lions and walking two. After 79 pitches, he was pulled for true freshman Garrett Milchin.

Making his second collegiate appearance, the 6'5 righty finished the game out strong. He closed the game out with two solid innings of relief as he allowed one hit, recorded his first collegiate strikeout, and hit a batter as well.

Offensively, the Gators banged out 10 hits while scoring a run in the first and second innings, three runs in the third, and two runs in the fourth.

True freshman Austin Langworthy had himself a day as he went 1-3 with a home run, two runs scored, an RBI, and two walks. Langworthy's long ball came with one out in the bottom of the first inning, when he blasted a 2-0 fastball onto the road behind McKethan Stadium to give Florida a 1-0 lead. It was Langworthy's second home run of the year.

Batting behind Langworthy in the three-hole, sophomore third baseman Jonathan India was one of three Gators with multiple hits in the contest! He went 2-3 with a pair of singles and two runs scored. He joined Austin as the only Gator to draw multiple walks. He also stole his first bag of the year in the third inning.

Jumping down two batters in the lineup, junior catcher Mike Rivera really began to find his stroke in this series. He went 2-3 with a double, two runs scored, an RBI, and a walk. Behind Rivera, another true freshman played a big role as Keenan Bell went 2-3 with two RBI's.

Final Takeaway
It was good to see the Gators regain their offensive form after a shaky midweek series. With the series now a win away, here are my final tidbits on Game 1:

  • Rivera's double was his first of the year.
  • Dalton Guthrie went hitless but did register his second sac fly of the year in this game. It pushed the lead to 2-0 in the second inning.

Game 2 (March 4th)
After the Friday night victory, the No. 2 Florida Gators (9-2) came back out and won the series as they defeated the Columbia Lions (0-2) by a score of 7-2.

Brady Singer (2-0, 1.00 ERA) took the mound and was hit around a bit as the Lions collected eight hits off of him. He was still effective, of course, as the sophomore fanned five while walking one and allowing two runs (one earned) in 5.1 innings of work.

With the score 2-1 in the sixth inning, Singer was taken out for true freshman Andrew Baker. The lefty came on with a runner on first and one out. After a passed ball and groundout, the tying run stood 90 feet away with two outs in the sixth.

Baker had his man behind in a 1-2 count, but wasn't able to finish the job as shortstop Joe Engel hit a ball into right field to tie the game. Baker would strike out the next batter, but the damage had been done.

After recording one out in the seventh, Baker was pulled after giving up another two-strike single. Entering in his place was another true freshman in Tyler Dyson. He had the benefit of Mike Rivera throwing out Columbia's Ben Porter trying to steal second before recording a strikeout to end the inning.

Dyson would be the benefactor of a four-run inning in the bottom of the seventh, propelling him to his first victory of the year. Out for the eight inning was junior lefty Nick Horvath. He allowed one hit but did record a strikeout in 0.2 innings of work.

Relieving Horvath for the remainder of the game was senior Frank Rubio. He ate up the remaining 1.1 innings as he struck out two and allowed no hits. The bullpen did their job and kept the Gators afloat until the offense could break this game open.

Florida trailed early in this one as Columbia plated a run in the third inning. The Lions' lead wouldn't last for long, however, as Florida tied it up in the fourth and took the lead in the fifth inning. After Columbia tied things back up in the sixth, the Gators exploded for four runs in the seventh inning and capped it off with one more run in the eighth.

Dalton Guthrie bounced back from his hitless Friday night as he went 2-5 with a pair of singles and a run scored. He stole his third bag of the season in the fifth inning of the game.

Guthrie was not alone, as he was one of four Gators who had multiple hits in this game. Combing through the lineup, Mike Rivera's name again pops up. He went 2-5 with a double, a triple, two RBI's, and a run scored.

Behind him, sophomore outfielder Nelson Maldonado went 2-3 with a double, one run scored, and two walks. Right after Nelly, junior designated hitter Mark Kolosvary continued to hit well in limited playing time as he went 2-3 with two RBI's and laid down the first Gator sacrifice bunt of the season. He was the one who tied the game up in the fourth inning with his infield single to third base.

Final Takeaway
The Gators had completed another series victory and yet again set their eyes towards the Sunday sweep. Before recapping Game 3, here's are my final tidbits from Game 2:

  • Rivera's double was his second of the year and his triple was his first of the year.
  • The Gators actually took the lead in the seventh after JJ Schwarz hit a ball right off the pitcher's face that then caromed through the first baseman's legs. JJ advanced all the way to second and was credited with a double as Jonathan India easily scored from third base to give the Gators a 3-2 lead. The Columbia pitcher, Zack Bahm, would be alright. 
  • Mike has now thrown out three runners trying to steal on him.

*All stats accredited to

Game 3 (March 5th)
The No. 2 Florida Gators (10-2) again successfully defended the Mac this weekend as they beat the Columba Lions (0-3) by a score of 8-4 to earn their third sweep of the season.

Taking the mound for Florida was sophomore Jackson Kowar (3-0, 2.45 ERA). He did a good job giving the bullpen a rest, as he worked seven innings on 89 pitches. He gave up three earned runs on five hits while striking out four, walking two, and hitting a batter on route to his third win of the year.

Once Kowar exited, it was a 4-3 Gator lead before a four-run spot in the seventh upped their advantage to 8-3. From there, it was smooth sailing as Nick Horvath and Tyler Dyson attacked the eighth and ninth innings.

Things were a little bit harrier for Horvath in this game, as he gave up one earned run on three hits in the eighth inning. However, he did pick off a runner and induced a double play to limit the damage.

In the ninth, Tyler Dyson looked like a vet. He sandwiched one walk in-between his two strikeouts before inducing a foul out to end the game.

Florida trailed 1-0 before four-spots in the seventh and eighth inning put the Lions' upset dreams to rest.

Back in the lineup for the finale, Keenan Bell again registered multiple hits as he went 2-4 with a double and a run scored. A few spots lower in the order, Nelson Maldonado again had himself a day as he went 2-3 with two runs scored, an RBI, and two walks. The Gators leading RBI-getter was Jonathan India, who plated three runners.

Now here's a breakdown of the Gator scoring in the sixth and seventh innings:

Sixth Inning
JJ kicked off the inning with a walk before advancing to third on a Keenan Bell single. Mike Rivera then grounded out to shortstop to plate JJ and advance Bell to second. With one out now and the score 3-2 Florida, Nelly smoked a double into left center to score Bell and push the lead to 4-2.

After a Christian Hicks flyout, both Blake Reese and Dalton Guthrie walked to load the bases for Austin Langworthy. A passed ball would score Maldonado and Langworthy would draw a walk to load the bases yet again. Jonathan India then came up to bat and he too walked to score another run. So yes, the Gators used FOUR CONSECUTIVE walks to score two runs on route to a four-run sixth inning.

Seventh Inning
After Columbia got two back in the seventh, Florida needed some breathing room up 4-3. Keenan Bell again got involved as he doubled to leadoff the inning. He was pinch ran for by Deacon Liput, who was successfully bunted over to third base by Mike Rivera.

With one out, Nelly walked and Christian Hicks popped up to the shortstop to make it two outs. With Blake Reese up, two wild pitches occurred to allow Liput to score and Nelly to advance to third. It was now 5-3 Gators. Reese then walked and Dalton Guthrie was hit by the second pitch of his at-bat.

With the bases loaded, Austin Langworthy again exercised great patience and drew a four-pitch walk to plate Nelly and push the lead to 6-3. With the bases loaded. Jonathan India came up and smacked a 2-2 pitch to left center field to score two runs and up the lead to 8-3. It was his only hit of the game and gave the Gators the breathing room they needed.

Final Takeaway
With the Columbia sweep, the No. 2 Florida Gators improve to 10-0 at the Mac. If you think that's impressive, check out my final tidbits for both Game 3 and the series as a whole:

  • For the first time since 2011, the Gators have swept their first three series of the season.
  • With his four RBI's this weekend, Mike Rivera has eclipsed 100 RBI's in his three-year Gator career!
  • In the series finale, JJ Schwarz drew three of Florida's 12 walks. He finished 0-2 with a run scored. For the whole series, JJ went 2-11 (.182) with a double, three runs scored, one RBI, four walks, and three strikeouts.
  • Jonathan India leads the team with four doubles while Nelson Maldonaldo trails right behind with three.
  • Kevin O'Sullivan used five different relievers in this series (three which were true freshmen).
  • Florida hit the ball all around the park as they had 10 hits in two of the games.
  • Austin Langworthy became the first Gator baserunner to get caught stealing as he was thrown out in the third inning of the series finale. To his credit though, he was the only Gator player to go yard this weekend and it was a MOONSHOT!

*All stats accredited to

Looking Ahead
With momentum from the sweep, No. 2 Florida (10-2) will now prepare for their midweek series with the FGCU Eagles (10-2) and their weekend series against the Seton Hall Pirates (4-6). The Gators will travel to Fort Myers on Tuesday and then host the Eagles on Wednesday before the Pirates land ashore on Friday.

I have no idea who the weekday starters will be, but I can tell you the weekend probables. It will be Alex Faedo on Friday night, Brady Singer on Saturday afternoon, and Jackson Kowar on Sunday afternoon.

For information on the FGCU weekday series, the game in Ft. Myers can solely be heard on the Gator IMG Sports Network while the Gainesville contest can be both seen on the SEC Network and also heard on the Gator IMG Sports Network.

As for Columbia (0-3), they will head to Starkville this weekend to play in the Mississippi State Tournament. They will face both South Alabama (6-5) and Mississippi State (7-5) twice.



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