Sunday, March 12, 2017

UF Baseball: No. 2 Florida vs Seton Hall Series Recap

The No. 2 Florida Gators (12-5) won their fourth consecutive home series of 2017 as they took two out of three games from the Seton Hall Pirates (7-8) this past weekend. Here is a recap of each game.

Game 1 (March 11th)
The No. 2 Florida Gators (11-4) defeated the Seton Hall Pirates (6-7) in the series opener by a score of 8-0.

Toeing the mound for his fourth start of the season, junior ace Alex Faedo (3-0, 1.37 ERA) was yet again incredible. Tossing six scoreless innings, Faedo scattered five hits, walked just one, and struck out six Pirates. After 87 pitches and with the Gators leading 6-0, he was done for the night and on route to his third win of the year.

Relieving Faedo was senior sidearmer Frank Rubio. He worked a fairly clean 1.1 innings of relief as he struck out two and allowed just one hit. With one out and a runner on second base in the eighth inning, Rubio was pulled in favor of true freshman Andrew Baker. Upon his entry, the lefty recorded a strikeout and induced a pop out to end the Pirate scoring threat.

Called upon to close out the game was junior transfer David Lee. In his first action for Florida this season, he did not disappoint. The 6'4 righty struck out two and induced a fly out to centerfield to secure the Gator victory.

Florida put their midweek offensive woes behind them in this game as they banged out 11 hits and scored in the first, second, fifth, and seventh innings.

The Gators relied heavily on the long ball as they hit three home runs as a team in this game. The first came from JJ Schwarz. In the bottom of the first inning, the junior first baseman continued where he left off against FGCU as he blasted the first pitch he saw over the left field fence. It was JJ's second home run of the year and would plate Dalton Guthrie to make it 2-0 Florida.

The second dinger came from Dalton Guthrie. With Blake Reese on second base and two outs in the bottom of the second, the junior shortstop hit the second pitch he saw over the left field fence to up the Gators' 3-0 lead to 5-0. It was his first home run of 2017.

The final Gator homer came off the bat of true freshman Keenan Bell. With one out in the fifth inning, Bell jumped on the first pitch he saw and launched a solo home run over the right field fence to extend the lead to 6-0. It would be Bell's second shot of the year and the final nail in the coffin for Seton Hall.

In addition to hitting his first deep fly of the season, Dalton Guthrie also had himself quite a night at the plate. He went 3-4 with two RBI's and came across to score twice. He was one of two Gators with multiple hits in the game. The other was sophomore right fielder Nelson Maldonaldo. Nelly went 2-4 and plated two runs on a throwing error in the seventh inning. He was credited with no RBI's though.

Now here are some of the Gator offensive dignitaries who had one hit in the contest. Sophomore third baseman Jonathan India went 1-3 with a double, a run scored, and a stolen base. True freshman left fielder Austin Langworthy went 1-2 with a double, a run scored, and a walk.

Keenan Bell's homer was his only hit, but he did finish the night 1-2 with two runs scored, an RBI, a stolen base, and a game-high two walks! Nearly rounding out the offense, sophomore second baseman Deacon Liput also plated a run in the second inning with an RBI single. It was his only hit on a 1-3 night with a walk as well.

Finally, sophomore center fielder Blake Reese had a 1-4 night out of the leadoff spot with a run scored and his first stolen bag of the season.

Final Takeaway
The Gators remained undefeated on Friday nights and had finally brought an end to their two-game losing streak. Before jumping into the wild doubleheader on Saturday, here are my final tidbits on the Game 1 victory:

  • Home runs from Dalton Guthrie are rare, as that was just the fourth round tripper of his career.
  • Both Jonathan India's and Keenan Bell's stolen bases were their second of the season.
  • Jonathan India's double was his fifth of the season while Austin Langworthy's was his second.
  • Both teams recorded an error in this game with Dalton Guthrie assuming responsibility for Florida's on a throwing error in the eighth inning.
  • This was Florida's fourth shutout of the season.
  • Alex Faedo has now tossed 21.2 consecutive scoreless innings!
  • Seton Hall did threaten Faedo's scoreless streak when they loaded the bases in the top of the sixth inning with two outs, but he was able to induce a ground ball to escape the jam unscathed.

Game 2 (March 12th)
Due to a forecast of inclement weather for Sunday, a doubleheader was scheduled for Saturday with the series finale taking place 30 minutes after the conclusion of the first game. Needless to say, it would be a while before that final game started.

In Game 2 of the series, the No. 2 Florida Gators (11-5) dropped their first weekend game of 2017 as the Seton Hall Pirates (7-7) defeated them by a score of 3-2 in 13 innings.

Jackson Kowar (3-0, 2.19 ERA) got the start in the afternoon game and was very economical in his approach. Scattering five hits, Kowar gave up just one earned run in 6.1 innings of work. He struck out three Pirates and walked one while throwing 83 pitches.

Kowar's lone walk would lead to his exit with one out in the top of the seventh with the Gators up 2-1. The first reliever out of the bullpen for the second straight game was yet again Frank Rubio. He needed just one pitch to induce an inning-ending double play.

Rubio made it to the ninth inning, but was pulled after walking a batter with one out. He finished the game with three strikeouts. Once Rubio departed, junior lefty Nick Horvath came in to try and seal the deal. He gave up a single that put runners on the corners with still one out.

Immediately, Horvath was pulled and true freshman Tyler Dyson came in to try and shut down the Pirates. Seton Hall went with a safety squeeze and it worked as Dyson fielded the bunt and threw it to first base for the second out.

The game was now tied at two a piece and Kowar's win had gone out the window. The run was charged to Frank and Horvath was now on the hook for the loss if Dyson could not strand the Pirate runner at second base.

The freshman was not fazed though. He recorded a full-count strikeout to end the threat and give the Gators a walk off opportunity. After the Gators came up with nothing in the bottom half of the ninth, Dyson was back out there again. He worked past a two-out hit to again give the Gators a chance in the tenth.

When nothing came to fruition in the tenth, Dyson was pulled. He finished with a stat line of two strikeouts and one hit allowed in 1.2 innings of relief.

Tasked with long relief for the rest of the game was true freshman Garrett Milchin. Throwing 53 pitches out of the pen, the 6'5 right-hander gave Florida three solid innings of relief. In that span he struck out four, walked two, gave up three hits, and allowed what would be the eventual winning run on a sacrifice fly with the bases loaded. He would unfortunately get tagged with the first loss of his collegiate career.

Florida trailed 1-0 early in this one before scoring in the fifth and sixth innings. Sadly, the Gator scoring would stop here for this game.

Three Gators had multiple hits in the contest. Back at it again, Dalton Guthrie killed it from the two-hole as he went 3-6 with a run scored. Two spots below him, cleanup man Jonathan India also went 3-6. Together, this dynamic duo had six singles.

Jumping all the way down to the nine-hole, junior first baseman Christian Hicks had himself a game as he went 2-3 with the game-tying home run in the fifth inning. That long ball would be Hicks's first of the season.

Hicks's homer was one of the two extra base hits Florida had in the entire game. The second came an inning later when Keenan Bell blasted what a looked like a three-run homer to right field. Apparently thought, it landed just short of the wall and instead Bell was credited with an RBI-double with the second runner advancing to third base. This officiating gaffe would come back to cost the Gators dearly.

Now, here are the game-winning opportunities Florida had in extra innings but just were not able to capitalize on:

9th Inning
Nick Horvath walks with one out and is then thrown out trying to steal second base. Austin Langworthy then comes up and draws a walk. After him, Deacon Liput grounds out to end the inning.

10th Inning
Dalton Guthrie singles to first base with two outs. JJ Schwarz grounds out next at-bat to end the inning.

11th Inning
Jonathan India leads off the inning with a single only to be erased on a Keenan Bell double play ball. Nick Horvath then gets hit by a pitch, but nothing comes of it as Austin Langworthy grounds out to end the inning.

12th Inning
This one hurt the most. With two outs, Andrew Baker gets hit by pitch. Dalton Guthrie then singles and JJ Schwarz draws a walk to load the bases. It is now on the shoulders of Jonathan India to send the Gator Faithful home happy and set the tone for Game 2 of the doubleheader.

India absolutely smokes an 0-1 pitch to right field for what looks like the game-winning grand slam. However, it falls two feet short of the wall and gets caught at the warning track for out number three.

13th Inning
Pinch-hitting for Austin Langworthy, junior catcher Mike Rivera smokes the first pitch he sees deep down the left field line for a foul ball. This would be the Gators' last glimmer of hope as he eventually lines out to the shortstop for the final out of the game.

Final Takeaway
This was a tough loss to stomach as Florida rarely loses games at home. Before recapping the second game of the doubleheader, here are my final tidbits on the Game 2 loss:

  • Keenan Bell's double was his third of the season.
  • Florida Gator head coach Kevin O'Sullivan was ejected from the contest in the ninth inning after a call that Dalton Guthrie had been hit by a pitch was reversed. It was quite a spectacle to see as Sully kicked up dirt and got in the umpire's face. It was even crazier for me to witness in person considering I was about 20 feet away from it all from where I was ushering!
  • JJ Schwarz threw out two runners from behind plate in this game. One came in the second inning and one in the tenth inning.
  • Jackson Kowar picked off a runner in the first inning. 
  • Florida left 11 men on base, Seton Hall left nine.
  • Florida is now 0-2 in games where they have walk off opportunities.
  • Stetson sidearm reliever Ryan Testani was incredible in extra innings. He threw 89 pitches in six inning while allowing three hits, walking three, and hitting two Gators. Yet, he still found a way to keep the game tied and eventually emerge with his first victory of 2017. Keep in mind he threw more pitches than Seton Hall's starter Zach Prendergast!
  • Andrew Baker made his collegiate hitting debut in this game. He went 0-3.

*All stats accredited to

Game 3 (March 12th)
In the series finale that started at 8:45 p.m., No. 2 Florida (12-5) bounced back from their deflating extra innings loss to win the game and the series by a score of 4-3. Despite what the numbers may say, I can PROMISE you that 3,113 people were not in attendance.

Brady Singer (2-0, 1.50 ERA) was tasked with winning the series in a later than usual start on a Saturday. It was a normal day at the office for Singer in the aspect that he threw six innings. The unusual part was that he gave up a three-run spot in the third inning.

It was a disaster. A throwing error from Singer followed by an RBI groundout and RBI double allowed Seton Hall to take an early 3-0 lead over Florida. After that inning though, Brady settled down and finished the game with three runs (two earned) allowed on five hits. He struck out five and hit a batter on 93 pitches thrown.

With the Gators trailing 3-2, Kirby McMullen would take over to replace Singer for the seventh inning. The true freshman was absolutely dominant out of the pen. He struck out the first five batters he faced and was pulled only after issuing a one-out walk in the ninth inning. McMullen's 2.1 innings of relief were much needed after the marathon that had occurred in Game 1 of the doubleheader.

After Kirby's departure, Andrew Baker came in with the closer role firmly his for the taking. He gave up a single on the second pitch and was pulled immediately for sophomore Michael Byrne. Making his first appearance all series, Bryne was vying for his first career save.

He would follow suit as he recorded two straight punch outs to sink the Pirates and nab the Gators a series victory. McMullen would be awarded his first career collegiate victory as a result.

The Gator offense did a good job crawling back from an early 3-0 deficit. They could never string multiple runs together in an inning, but did a consistent job of scoring just once in the fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth to earn a 4-3 victory.

Funny enough is that TWO players accounted for all of Florida's hits tonights. First was three-hole man JJ Schwarz. Definitely regaining his stroke this series, JJ went 2-4 with a double. Second was a man who was making his first start in the entire series. Yes, I'm talking about Ryan Larson.

The senior outfielder absolutely killed it in the series finale as he went 2-3 with two solo home runs! His first home run put Florida on the scoreboard and his second dinger knotted the game up at three a piece in the seventh inning!

It was truly great to see a guy who doesn't play as consistently go out there and help determine a series. It is really something (in my opinion) that can get a team going and keep their confidence and morale up.

My coaching philosophy aside, here is how Florida got their two other runs. Their second run of the game on a Mark Kolozsvary ground ball with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning. Seton Hall third baseman Connor Hood literally had to field the ball and throw to first base, but chose instead to chase after Mike Rivera in-between second and third base.

While Hood went after Rivera, Jonathan India had enough time to score from third base right before the tag applied. So yes Seton Hall got the third out, but Florida got a crucial run that would turn out to be the difference when it was all said and done.

The go-ahead run came in the eighth inning after Dalton Guthrie drew a leadoff walk and advanced to third on JJ's double. With no outs, Jonathan India again had the game in his hands. He would fly out yet again, but it was deep enough to plate Guthrie and give Florida the 4-3 lead.

Final Takeaway
It was a crazy day with the doubleheader, but worth it because the Gators won yet another series at the Mac! Before previewing the week ahead, here are my final tidbits on both the series finale and the series as a whole:

  • JJ Schwarz's double was his third of the season.
  • As a team, the Gators hit six home runs in this series.
  • The Florida Gators have now won 13 straight series against non-conference opponents.
  • This is the first time since his sophomore season in 2015 that Ryan Larson has hit one out of the ballpark. His career home run total is now up to three!
  • Prior to Larson's first deep fly, the Gators had gone scoreless for 11 consecutive innings!
  • Sully used eight different relievers in this series. Of those eight, five were true freshmen!
  • Both teams registered 12 strikeouts a piece in the series finale.
  • India's sacrifice fly was his second of the season.
  • Seton Hall finishes the series with three errors while Florida committed two.
  • Florida banged out 11 hits in two of the three games this weekend.

*All stats accredited to

Looking Ahead
After what should be considered a successful weekend with a series victory and a somewhat rejuvenated offense, the No. 2 Florida Gators (12-5) will now prepare for their first matchup with the arch rival No. 3 Florida State Seminoles (13-3).

The game is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. this Tuesday at the Mac. FSU has not beaten Florida in a regular series matchup at the Mac since 2013. It will be loud and crazy. God bless whoever Sully picks to start that game.

If it is a freshman (I'm suspecting Austin Langworthy here), it will be the biggest start of his young career. If it is a more experienced guy like Michael Byrne, than it will help prepare him for some potentially even bigger starts down the road.

The game can be seen on the SEC Network+ and heard on the Gator IMG Sports Network. After the Gators takes care of business at home against the 'Noles, they will hit the road to begin SEC play. Their first conference opponent of the year will be the Auburn Tigers (11-5), who last played Florida in Gainesville back in 2015. The Gators won two out of three games to take that series.

Although Florida is 0-3 on the road this season, hopefully a midweek victory over Florida State will help get the bats going and get the team motivated for a hostile crowd at Samford Stadium. The probable starters for this weekend are the usual suspects. It will be Alex Faedo on Friday night, Brady Singer on Saturday afternoon, and Jackson Kowar on Sunday afternoon.

As for Seton Hall (7-8), they will head to New Jersey to participate in the Strike Out Cancer Classic this upcoming weekend. They will face the Manhattan Jaspers (2-7) on Friday, the Brown Bears (0-4) on Saturday, and the Lehigh Mountain Hawks (2-6) on Sunday.



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