Gators clinch series with 7-2 baseball win

Jim Harvin Correspondent
Saturday, March 04, 2017 10:11 PM

Second-ranked Florida broke open a 2-all tie with a four-run seventh inning and added an insurance run in the eighth en route to a 7-2 win over Columbia before a McKethan Stadium crowd of 3,661 Saturday.

UF improved to 9-2 on the season while clinching the three-game series with the Lions (0-2).

Florida will go for the sweep today at 1 p.m.

“I was really, really pleased with the way we swung the bats in the seventh and eighth innings,” Florida coach Kevin O'Sullivan said. “We had some really good at-bats.”

The Lions jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the third inning, only to watch the Gators answer with single runs in the fourth and fifth to go ahead 2-1.

Columbia plated a single run in the sixth to tie things at 2-all, setting the stage for UF's decisive seventh.

The inning started innocently enough with a pair of infield outs, but after that, the next seven Gator batters reached base, with the first four of them scoring.

Jonathan India started things with a two-out double to right-center, and JJ Schwarz followed with a hard shot off the face of Columbia reliever Zack Bahm that plated India with the go-ahead run, with Schwarz advancing to second with another double.

Catcher Mike Rivera then stepped to the plate and lined a triple to right-center, scoring Schwarz for a 4-2 UF lead, and the Gators added two more runs to build their lead to 6-2.

UF added a single run in the eighth when Rivera knocked in Austin Langworthy to make it 7-2, and Frank Rubio, who came in with two outs and a man on in the eighth, retired all four Columbia batters he faced to seal the win.

“It was nice to get on base and run around,” Rivera said. “It's not easy to get back-to-back hits, but I feel like we're working on it and haven't given up on it. I know our team is trying.”

Columbia's Bahm (0-1), who had to leave the game after getting hit in the face, suffered the loss but received a standing ovation from the crowd when he left the field.

UF starter Brady Singer went 5 1/3 innings, scattering eight hits, before giving way to relievers Andrew Baker, Tyler Dyson, Nick Horvath and Rubio, who combined to shut out the Lions on three hits over the final 3 2/3 frames.

Dyson picked up his first career win, while Rivera, Mark Kolozsvary, Nelson Maldonado and Dalton Guthrie each had two hits.

“I thought we played good defense the whole game,” Schwarz said. “The bats came alive toward the end of the game. That's something we can take into the next game and hopefully come out with our bats hot like we ended today.”

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