Scoring in each of its first four innings, No. 2 Florida quickly put the idea of a UCF season sweep to rest, pounding the ninth-ranked Knights, 10-2 Wednesday night at McKethan Stadium. The victory improves Florida’s record to 11-2 overall and avenges Tuesday night’s defeat in Orlando — squaring the season series up at one a piece.
One sure mark of a great team is the way it responds to adversity, and the ball players from Florida got right back on track just 24 hours after suffering what could have been deflating loss. Florida’s swift 3-0 lead through two innings, however, showed Tuesday night was old news in the minds of the Gators.
Outfielder Harrison Bader’s solo homer in the bottom of the 3rd extended Florida’s cushion to 4 runs heading into the 4th, where starting pitcher Brett Morales looked to continue his smooth start; retiring the first nine Knights he faced (three by way of strikeout).
The top half of the 4th inning proved the most crucial of night.
UCF found the scoreboard with a solo-shot of its own, and after two more base hits, Kevin O’Sullivan had seen enough. Kirby Snead, a lefty for the Gators, came in for relief and pitched the Gators out of a bases-loaded jam. Snead (1-0) would record his first W of the season.
It was UCF’s best and only real chance to make Wednesday’s game any closer.
That’s because Florida’s bats were about to heat up. The Gators scored three in the 4th and three in the 6th with consistent hitting and took advantage of four UCF errors.
But Florida’s commanding, payback victory had much more to do with its 11 hits, clutch defense, and mental toughness Wednesday night in Gainesville.
When adjusting for strength of opponent, this may have been Florida’s most complete game of the year — the Gators scored in all but three innings after managing just three runs on five hits Tuesday night.
In short, this was another impressive job by a team that looks every bit its #2 ranking. The Gators will now enjoy a day off before it faces Maine on Friday evening in Gainesville.