Monday, May 8, 2017

UF Baseball: No. 7 Florida vs Ole Miss Series Recap

The No. 7 Florida Gators (35-13, 16-8 SEC) remained one of the hottest teams in the country as they swept the Ole Miss Rebels (29-20, 11-13 SEC) at the Mac this past weekend. Here is a recap of each game!

Game 1 (May 5th)
In the series opener on Cinco de Mayo, the No. 7 Florida Gators (33-13, 14-8 SEC) obliterated the Ole Miss Rebels (29-18, 11-11 SEC) by a score of 11-2.

Earning his seventh victory of the season, junior ace Alex Faedo (7-1, 2.42 ERA) was magnificent. He scattered three hits, struck out nine, and walked three in six shutout innings. After 98 pitches and with Florida up 9-0 lead in the seventh inning, Faedo was lifted for true freshman Tyler Dyson.

In his two innings out of the pen, the Bradenton product was absolutely untouchable. He retired all six batters he faced with five of those outs coming via strikeout. In the ninth, true freshman Cole Maye came on for just his third appearance of the season.

The 6'7 lefty got touched up for two runs on two hits while also issuing a walk, but was able to put the Rebels away to secure the victory.

The Florida offense sprang back to life tonight as they scored 11 runs on 12 hits. They had a seven-spot in the fourth, put up two in the fifth, and scored once more in the seventh and eighth. Here's how that big fourth inning went down:

Fourth Inning
Deacon Liput fouled out for the first out and then Dalton Guthrie followed with a single to center field. Austin Langworthy drew a walk and Nelson Maldonaldo struck out for the second out of the inning. JJ Schwarz then walked to load the bases and Christian Hicks followed with a walk as well to plate the first run of the contest.

With the bases still loaded on a 1-2 count, Ryan Larson then smacked a bomb to left field for his first career grand slam! It was now 5-0 Florida. Jonathan India then singled to center field and subsequently stole second base. He would come in to score on a Keenan Bell single to left center to make it 6-0 Florida.

Like India, the true freshman Bell would swipe second and come around to score on a Deacon Liput single to center field. It was now 7-0 Florida. Liput would conclude the inning getting thrown out at second base, but the damage had been done.

Offensive Performers
Three Gators had multiple hits in the game with every starter but JJ Schwarz notching at least one hit. In the two-hole, junior shortstop Dalton Guthrie went 3-4 with a double, two runs scored, and an RBI via sacrifice fly.

Two spots down in the cleanup spot, sophomore right fielder Nelson Maldonaldo went 2-4 with a solo home run in the seventh that made it 10-0 Florida. This would be his only run scored and driven in.

Jumping all the way down to the bottom of the lineup, first baseman Keenan Bell went 2-4 with a double, two runs scored, and an RBI out of the nine-hole.

For the remainder of the lineup, sophomore second baseman Deacon Liput went 1-4 with an RBI and a walk out of the leadoff spot. In the three-hole, true freshman center fielder Austin Langworthy went 1-4 with a double, two runs scored, an RBI, and a walk.

Though hitless in the game, JJ Schwarz did score a run and had an RBI groundout on an 0-3 night. Behind JJ, junior third baseman Christian Hicks went 1-3 with a double, a run scored, an RBI, and a walk. After him, Ryan Larson went 1-4 with his lone hit being a big one in that fourth inning grand slam.

Finally, Jonathan India was back in the lineup after a nine-game hiatus. I do not know if it was due to an injury or disciplinary issue, but regardless it's good to have the former freshman All-American back in the lineup. In his first game since April 15th, India went 1-4 with a run scored as the Florida designated hitter.

Final Takeaway

With this victory, the Florida Gators have extended their winning streak to seven games and are now tied for first place with Kentucky (31-15, 14-8 SEC) in the SEC East! Before previewing Game 2, here are my final tidbits on the Cinco de Mayo victory:

  • The Florida Gators are 2-2 all-time on Cinco de Mayo under Kevin O'Sullivan's watch.
  • The Gators have now won two straight over Ole Miss.
  • This is the fifth time this year that Florida has scored double-digit runs in a game.
  • Dalton Guthrie, Austin Langworthy, and Christian Hicks all hit their seventh doubles of the season, Keenan Bell hit his fourth.
  • Ryan Larson's grand slam and Nelly's solo shot were both their fourth dingers of the year.
  • This is Guthrie's 16th, Nelly' 11th, and Bell's eighth multi-hit game of the season.
  • Jonathan India stole his eighth bag of the year while Keenan Bell swiped his third.
  • JJ Schwarz threw out his fifth baserunner of the year to end the the top of the third inning.
  • The power of Cinco de Mayo was strong tonight, as just 3,447 fans made it out to the Mac for the opener.

*All stats accredited to

Game 2 (May 6th)
The No. 7 Florida Gators (34-13, 15-8 SEC) won their eighth straight game and took the series over the Ole Miss Rebels (29-19 SEC, 11-12 SEC) with a closer 7-4 victory on Saturday night.

Sophomore right-hander Brady Singer (5-3, 2.23 ERA) toed the rubber on Saturday night and worked seven innings for the Gators. Within those frames, he allowed four runs (three earned) on seven hits while striking out six Rebels. At 102 pitches, Singer was removed with the game tied at 4-4 going into the eighth.

Out of the pen for relief was junior left-hander Nick Horvath. He worked a perfect inning while sandwiching a strikeout between a groundout and a fly out. After Florida put up three in the bottom half of the inning to take a 7-4 inning, it was Michael Byrne time.

The sophomore closer had no problems at all, as he retired all three batters he faced and ended the game with a strikeout. It was Byrne's 12th save of the year and in the process awarded Nick Horvath his third win of the season.

The Gators were down 4-0 at one point before putting together some good at-bats in the later innings. The offense again banged out double-digit hits with 13 on the night with seven runs to show for it.

Florida's scoring occurred with a three-spot in the fifth, a run scored in the seventh, and then another three-run spot in the eighth. Before looking at the offensive standouts, here's how the game-winning rally in the eighth took place:

Eighth Inning
Mark Kolozsvary struck out to start the frame and then Ryan Larson fouled out. With two fairly quick outs, Dalton Guthrie singled to right center field on a full count to keep the inning alive. Austin Langworthy then drew a four-pitch walk to put runners on first and second.

JJ Schwarz was now up in the cleanup spot and came through on a 2-2 count with a single to right field. Guthrie came around to score and Florida now led 5-4. JJ then stole second with Langworthy already on third and they both scored on a Nelson Maldonaldo single to center field to make it 7-4. Nelly was thrown out trying to take second to end the rally.

Offensive Performers
Four Gators had multi-hit nights as all but two starters had a base knock. First up was JJ Schwarz. After a hitless night in the opener, JJ quickly turned it around as he went 3-4 with a double, two runs scored, three RBI's, a walk, and his fifth stolen base of the season.

Two spots down, Christian Hicks went 2-4. After him, Jonathan India went 2-3 with a walk and the game-tying RBI single in the seventh inning. Rounding out the quartet of multi-hitters, junior catcher Mark Kolozsvary went 3-4 with two doubles and a run scored.

Among those with one hit, both Ryan Larson and Dalton Guthrie went 1-4 with a walk and a run scored while Nelly's lone hit provided huge insurance in the eighth. Though hitless, Austin Langworthy did find a way to score two runs while also notching an RBI in the fifth inning and drawing a walk.

Final Takeaway
This is Florida's fourth straight SEC series win and their sixth overall. With the Kentucky win over Georgia (18-29, 6-17 SEC) on Saturday, the two foes remained tied atop the SEC East standings. Before recapping the series finale, here are my final tidbits on yet another series victory for Florida:

  • This is the fourth time in the Kevin O'Sullivan era that the Florida Gators have taken the series over Ole Miss.
  • The Gators have now won three straight over Ole Miss.
  • This is Brady Singer's fourth no-decision of the year.
  • JJ Schwarz's double was his eighth of the season while Kolo's pair puts him at six for the year.
  • This is JJ's 11th, India's seventh, Hicks's 14th, and Kolo's fourth multi-hit game of the season.
  • Florida had one error in the game. It came on a bad throw from Dalton Guthrie with one out in the top of the fourth inning. Ole Miss would capitalize as that runner would score to make it 4-0 Rebels.
  • Ole Miss's leading hitter was junior second baseman Tate Blackman. He went 3-5 with a double and a run scored.
  • 4,227 fans showed out at the Mac for this one.

*All stats accredited to

Game 3 (May 7th)
In the series finale, the No. 7 Florida Gators (35-13, 16-8 SEC) won their ninth consecutive game with a 6-4 victory over the Ole Miss Rebels (29-20, 11-13 SEC).

Sophomore right-hander Jackson Kowar (8-0, 3.79 ERA) upped his record to a perfect 8-0 after his outing on Sunday. Going 6.2 innings, Kowar allowed two earned runs on six hits. He had three strikeouts while issuing just one walk.

At 93 pitches, Kowar was given the hook after walking a batter with two outs and a 6-2 lead. In his place came true freshman Garrett Milchin, who needed just two pitches to induce a groundout and end the inning.

In the eighth inning, two hits cut the lead to 6-3 and Milchin was pulled with one out. On for the five-out save was closer Michael Byrne. He generated a groundout that plated a run (which was charged to Milchin) and then got another groundout to end the frame.

With the score 6-4 in the ninth, Byrne worked past a leadoff walk to induce three straight fly outs to earn the sweep over Ole Miss. It was Byrne's 13th save of the year, which tied the single season school record!

Florida had nine hits in this game and did a chunk of their scoring in the early-mid innings of this one. They plated a run in the third, two in the fourth, and three in the fifth.

Three Gators had a multi-hit day. In the leadoff spot, Ryan Larson went 2-5 with a solo home run in the fifth inning. This increased the lead to 4-1 at the time and accounted for Larson's only run scored and batted in.

Back at it again with a couple base knocks were JJ Schwarz and Christian Hicks. Out of the cleanup spot, JJ went 2-4 with a run scored. Two spots below him, Hicks went 2-4 with an RBI double in the sixth inning that pushed the Gator lead to 6-1.

Three other Gators round out the offense with one hit a piece. In the five-hole, Nelson Maldonaldo went 1-3 with two runs scored, an RBI single in the fourth, and a walk. His lone hit gave Florida a 2-1 lead.

Two spots down, Jonathan India announced his return in dramatic fashion as he belted a solo homer run over the right field fence in the third inning. It was the first run of the game and could be a message to all stating that India is back for good. He finished the day 1-2 with a walk as well.

All the way down in the nine-hole, Deacon Liput went 1-3 with a beautiful push bunt single down the first base line in the third inning.

Final Takeaway
This is the second time under Sully that Florida has swept Ole Miss. This sweep was also huge in terms of the SEC East race as Kentucky lost on Sunday to give Florida sole possession of first place. Before diving in deeper into the home stretch of the SEC title race, here are my final tidbits on the series finale and the series as a whole:

  • Under Sully, Florida has now won and lost four series a piece against Ole Miss.
  • The Gators are 14-10 all-time against the Rebels in the regular season.
  • The Gators have now won four straight over Ole Miss.
  • Christian Hicks's double was his eight of the year.
  • Jonathan India's and Ryan Larson's home runs were both their fifth of the season.
  • Deacon Liput had his second sacrifice bunt of the year in this game while Kolo had his second sacrifice fly of the season.
  • This is Ryan Larson's ninth, JJ's 12th, and Hicks's 15th multi-hit game of the season.
  • JJ Schwarz threw out his sixth baserunner of the year to yet again end the top of the third inning.
  • Ole Miss had three guys with multi-hit games. They were Tate Blackman (2-3 with a home run, a double, two runs scored, and a walk), junior center fielder Will Golsan (2-4 with a run scored), and sophomore first baseman Nick Fortes (3-4 with a double, and two RBI's).
  • Florida and Ole Miss finish the series with only one error a piece. The Rebels' error in this game came on a bad pickoff attempt to first base from starter David Parkinson. It allowed Austin Langworthy to reach third base and subsequently score to give Florida a 2-1 lead.
  • 3,747 fans braved the heat and came out to watch this one on a toasty Sunday afternoon.

*All stats accredited to

Looking Ahead
With another SEC series in the books, the now No. 5 ranked Florida Gators (35-13, 16-8 SEC) have their last midweek game of the year this upcoming Tuesday. Their opponent will be the No. 23 ranked USF Bulls (37-10), who the Gators sport a nice 16-1 all-time record against in the O'Sullivan era.

However, this USF team may be different from past ones as they have an impressive 37-10 record and are currently in first place atop the American Athletic Conference standings. They also have a winning streak of their own as they have won five straight. First pitch at the Mac is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. It can be seen on the SEC Network+ and heard on the Gator IMG Sports Network.

After the USF contest, the Gators will head on up to Tuscaloosa to face the struggling Alabama Crimson Tide (18-29, 5-19 SEC). Unlike football, baseball is not exactly the Tide's forte as they have the worst record in the SEC.

That being said, they shocked the college baseball world this past weekend with their sweep over the then No. 9 ranked Auburn Tigers (32-17, 14-10 SEC) in Auburn. Prior to that series, the Tide had lost seven straight games. This shows how unpredictable the sport of baseball can be.

Florida needs to not play down to Alabama's level with a super important series against Kentucky (32-16, 15-9 SEC) looming in that following weekend. At the same time, Florida needs to not overlook the Tide lest they suffer the same fate as Auburn did.

The first two games are scheduled for 7 p.m. and can be seen on the SEC Network+. The series finale will be at 4 p.m. and telecasted on the SEC Network. All of the games can be heard on the Gator IMG Sports Network.

As for Ole Miss (29-20, 11-13 SEC), they will return to Oxford as they prepare to host the No. 19 Texas A&M Aggies (34-15, 14-10 SEC) in a three-game set. Their chances of winning either the SEC or even the West division are about slim to none at this point. However, they can still play spoiler and knock Texas A&M out of the running.



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