Gators break out power bats to sink Pirates
Following a mid-week hitting slump, the Gators baseball team wasted little time getting back on track Friday.
JJ Schwarz opened the floodgates in the first inning with a two-run home run to left-center field as UF claimed a series-opening 8-0 win over Seton Hall at McKethan Stadium.
Schwarz, who recorded 19 home runs as a freshman, entered Friday’s game with just a lone blast on the season — a solo shot in the ninth inning in Wednesday’s 3-2 loss to Florida Gulf Coast.
But Schwarz apparently never cooled down and connected on the first pitch he saw from Pirates pitcher Shane McCarthy.
“The first pitch, I was ready for it,” Schwarz said. “After that, he kind of got me off his pitches a little bit, but I felt good up there and hopefully I can bring that tomorrow.
“The whole team swung really well today, and that was good to see after the mid-weeks.”
The Gators never looked back, and home runs from Dalton Guthrie and Keenan Bell in the second and fifth innings, respectively, only padded the lead, as Seton Hall struggled against UF pitcher Alex Faedo (3-0). Faedo gave up just five hits to the Pirates (6-7), improving his scoreless streak to 21.2 innings.
“I got out of a couple jams and that was pretty nice, because the last couple games there haven’t been as many high-pressure situations, and it was good to work through,” Faedo said. “Maybe we started a little winning streak today, hopefully.”
Faedo’s dominance wasn’t lost on Guthrie, who dubbed the Tampa native “probably the best I’ve been able to play with.”
“Every time you go out there, you expect to win with him on the mound,” said Guthrie, who hit his first home run in the past 116 games. “It’s a really fun game to play behind him.”
With three bases stolen on the night, the Gators (11-4) have recorded more than one stolen base in five games this season.
Florida returns to McKethan Stadium today at 4 p.m. for the start of a doubleheader with the Pirates. The second game will follow immediately after at 7 p.m. A threat of rain Sunday forced the twinbill.
“I’ve seen these guys, they haven’t forgotten how to hit,” UF coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “I gave it a lot of thought after Wednesday night’s game and how we’re going to help them. It’s our job to help them. The bottom line is, you just have to simplify it.”
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