Garry Smits/Florida Times-Union
JACKSONVILLE — It was a walk in the park in more ways than one for the No. 2 Florida Gators baseball team.
UF drew four bases-loaded walks and a bases-loaded hit batter — all but one coming in a seven-run sixth inning — and went on to rout the Jacksonville University Dolphins 13-3 on Tuesday in front of 1,063 at John Sessions Stadium.
Florida (4-0) won its 60th game overall and its fifth in a row in the rivalry, which resumes on Wednesday at 6 p.m. at McKethan Stadium.
The Gators sent 12 batters to the plate in the sixth and at one point three batters in a row got a run batted in without having to swing the bat: Austin Langworthy and Cory Acton drew walks with the bases full and Kirby McMullen was hit by a pitch.
It was Langworthy’s second RBI via a bases-loaded walk in the game. Six pitchers for JU (1-3) combined to issue eight walks and hit two batters.
However, Florida did enough damage without help from the JU pitching staff — especially the bottom four players in the order. Nathan Hickey, Kris Armstrong, Josh Rivera and Cal Greenfield went a combined 8 of 17, scoring seven runs and each collecting an extra-base hit.
Rivera went 3 for 4 with two RBI and two runs. Leadoff hitter Jud Fabian (3 for 5, two RBI) drove in UF’s first run of the game with a double in the third and he added an RBI single in the fourth.
Through their first four games, the Gators are averaging 11.7 runs and 12 hits per game.
“We liked our offense coming in,” said UF coach Kevin O’Sullivan. “It’s a long season, but we swung the bats well in the fall and in the preseason. If we get our front-line pitching squared away, find a third starter and play good defense, I like this team.”
Freshman left-hander Hunter Barco might factor into that equation and he had some good moments in his first collegiate start — which lasted two full innings and 48 pitches, 9.6 miles from where he went to high school at Bolles.
Barco escaped jams in each inning, striking out Duncan Hunter to end the first with the bases loaded, then fanning Ruben Someillan for the third out in the second two batters after allowing a double to Cory Heffron.
Barco had three strikeouts, walked one, hit a batter and gave up three hits. He was limited to a pitch count in the mid-40s because O’Sullivan has scheduled him to start Sunday at No. 1 Miami.
“He might have put a little pressure on himself,” O’Sullivan said. “There were a lot of firsts for him … first start, first start on the road, he’s got family and friends here but I thought he handled it fine.”
Barco admitted that pitching in his hometown as a college player was a new experience
“It’s different wearing a Gator uniform,” he said.
Barco said he tried not to get impatient and throw perfect pitches, knowing his turn would be short against the Dolphins.
“You always try to make the best pitch you can,” he said. “Knowing I wasn’t going to go too long, I tried to relax. But there are times when you have to bear down and trust your stuff.”
Barco was the first of five Florida pitchers. Another freshman, Nick Ficarrotta (1-0) got the win with two innings of one-hit ball after relieving Barco. Junior Justin Alintoff struck out six batters in 3.2 innings.
JU starter Mike Cassala (0-2), who also went to high school in the Jacksonville area, lasted 3.1 innings and gave up four runs, three earned, and seven hits. He struck out five. Cassala was making his second appearance of the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery last year.