JJ Schwarz stepped out of the batter’s box in the 6th inning and messed with his helmet for a minute.
He made whatever problem there was with it irrelevant by blasting a home run on the very next pitch, just like Florida made its own recent failures in Regional play irrelevant and partially erased three years of frustration by handing out one of the quickest pummelings ever dished out in McKethan Stadium to begin the 2015 NCAA Tournament. The recipient of the demolition was Florida A&M, who actually beat Florida in the regular season last year.
Not this year, though. Not when it matters.
By the end of the 3rd inning, it was 6-0. By the end of the 7th inning, it was 13-0. And just for good measure, the Gators added six more runs in the bottom of the 8th inning to make the final tally 19- which is more than Will Muschamp’s offenses scored in 30 of the 49 games he coached at Florida. FAMU, for their part, could only muster three hits. They also made three errors.
Every single Gator in the starting lineup recorded a hit or an RBI, and Kevin O’Sullivan cleared the bench to make sure that four more Gators could say the same. Six of the starters (Jeremy Vasquez, Harrison Bader, Richie Martin, Josh Tobias, Peter Alonso and JJ Schwarz) scored multiple runs, and Schwarz led all hitters with four hits. Meanwhile, Logan Shore threw five innings of shutout ball, allowing only two hits, and then turned it over to the bullpen. Frank Rubio and Shaun Anderson threw two innings apiece to finish the job, limiting the Rattlers to one measly mingle, and when it was all said and done Florida had a 19-0 win in its back pocket.
Not a bad bounce back for a team that got swept out of its own regional last year, and had lost its last six NCAA Tournament games dating all the way back to the 2012 College World Series. And if the Gators keep feasting on opponents’ pitching like this and getting top pitching efforts like this, they’ll have a great shot to go back to the place where the ignoble losing streak started.
Let’s keep this in perspective, though. This was FAMU, one of the worst teams in the NCAA Tournament and certainly the worst team Florida will face the rest of the way. Florida didn’t really do anything wrong, but I wouldn’t put much stock into that because FAMU isn’t good enough to put them in a position to do anything wrong. So yes, Florida played great, but it came against a team that was well equipped to make them look great.
Next on the menu for the hungry group of Gators is USF, a team Florida swept 13-3 and 5-1 in the regular season. That game is tomorrow night at 7. Let’s see if the Orange and Blue can keep it going.