Any ideas that the Gator baseball team would begin a tailspin following a midweek defeat to UCF were quickly eradicated.
First, Florida retaliated with a 10-2 drubbing of the Knights in Gainesville. Then the Gators picked up a season sweep of the Black Bears of Maine this past weekend, winning the three games by scores of 5-0, 6-1 and 5-3. The three game sweep improves Florida’s record to 14-2 on the season, including 12-1 at McKethan Stadium in Gainesville.
At no point in any game were the Gators in serious danger of losing. In the first game, Florida jumped all over Maine in the second inning with four runs, and Logan Shore shut the Black Bears down for the 5-0 victory. The Florida offense repeated the feat in the second game, and AJ Puk similarly silenced the Maine offense in a 6-1 win. Game three was a bit more interesting, as Maine chipped away at a 4-1 deficit to cut the lead to 4-3, but freshman Mike Rivera came through in the clutch with a two out RBI double in the eighth to give the Gators a much needed insurance run, and Taylor Lewis came in in the ninth inning and picked up the save.
The Gators’ raw statistics weren’t shabby at all. For the weekend, Gator starting pitchers combined to give up two runs and the Gators’ bats collected 30 hits. Of course, this all came against a Maine team with all of four wins on the season, but in any case, it’s nice to see Florida’s offense picking up the slack after a so-so offensive performance against Miami, particularly without the power that Pete Alonso’s bat is sure to provide once he returns.
But the main takeaway- pun sort of intended- from this sweep is that Florida knows how to take care of business against inferior opponents. Roll your eyes at that if you want, but do remember that Florida got bounced from its own Gainesville Regional last year in two straight games by inferior opponents. OK, so Florida’s early NCAA Tournament opponents will probably be better than Maine, but assuming they continue playing solid baseball and earn a home regional, their first opponent is likely to be the winner of an also-ran conference from a remote part of the country that otherwise has no business playing in a 64 team tournament to decide the national champion. That’s what happened last year… and the College of Charleston beat the mighty Gators and sent them into the loser’s bracket, where they lost to a decent North Carolina team.
So taking care of business, even this early in the season, is definitely a good sign. Florida is about to run into the gauntlet portion of the schedule, which is why it’s so important for the Gators to be taking care of business- and running up a gaudy win-loss record- this early in the season.
Essentially, this Gator team has done all you could possibly ask them to do so far.