Florida beats back Jacksonville, 13-8

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Florida infielder Brady McConnell gave the Gators a little breathing room with a two-run home run in the bottom half of the seventh to make it 13-8 on Tuesday vs. Jacksonville. [Cyndi Chambers/Correspondent/File]

By JM Soracchi, Correspondent

Powered by the top of its lineup, the No. 14 Florida baseball team pounded out 14 hits and held off Jacksonville University on Tuesday night at McKethan Stadium for the 13-8 win.

Jacob Young, Brady McConnell and Nelson Maldonado combined for nine hits and seven RBIs, as the Gators jumped out to a commanding 8-0 lead early on.

Young’s night, which saw him go 3 for 4 with three runs and an RBI, raised his season batting average to .403. The freshman, who was recruited as an outfielder, also played an errorless game at second base.

Freshman right-hander Nolan Crisp picked up the win on the mound by tossing four innings of one-hit ball in his first career collegiate start.

“He was very efficient,” Florida coach Kevin O’Sullivan said of Crisp, “probably the biggest reason we won the ballgame.”

Florida, which defeated the Dolphins 5-4 last month in Jacksonville, still led 11-2 after five innings before Jacksonville battled back behind a two-out, three-run home run in both the sixth and seventh innings to cut UF’s advantage to 11-8.

“It was uninspired,” said O’Sullivan of his team’s performance. “I don’t think we played focused tonight. I thought we just lacked the killer instinct at times. When you have a team down 11-2, let’s continue to apply pressure and have good at bats.”

With one out in the seventh, McConnell helped restore a semblance of order when he got ahold of a 2-0 pitch and drove the ball into the left field bleachers to give the Gators some valuable breathing room and extend the lead out to 13-8.

“Over the weekend, I struggled a little bit and I felt I was getting my foot down late,” McConnell said, “so I was focusing on that tonight, making sure I was getting the head (of the bat) out and I think I did that pretty good.”

The sophomore shortstop went 3 for 3 with the homer, three runs and four RBIs.

Maldonado nearly went back-to-back with McConnell but a leaping catch at the wall in left center field by Jacksonville junior centerfielder Ruben Someillan robbed Maldonado of a fourth hit on the evening.

Maldonado, a senior designated hitter, went 3 for 5 with a double, two RBIs and two runs scored.

Florida won’t have much time to prepare for its first SEC road trip of the season. The Gators begin a three-game series at 7 p.m. Thursday at No. 8 Vanderbilt in a Top 15 matchup.

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