By Jim Harvin, Correspondent
Top-ranked Florida pounded out 15 hits en route to scoring 10 runs and junior right-hander Jackson Kowar rebounded from a tough first inning to limit Siena to six hits while striking out 10 batters in a solid seven-inning start, as the Gators beat the Saints 10-2.
The win clinched the season-opening series for UF (2-0) before a McKethan Stadium crowd of 4,306 Saturday.
“I think after the first inning, Jackson really settled in,” UF coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “The fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh was probably the best sequence of innings he has put together as a Gator. It was sharp, his delivery was on point, and he had some up-tempo where he sped up his delivery and the ball was coming out at a better angle.
“His breaking ball is so much more improved, so I’m really, really pleased with how he threw the ball.”
Siena (0-2) jumped to a 2-0 lead in the first when Jordan Bishop doubled with one out and first baseman Joe Drpich followed by delivering Kowar’s first pitch to deep left for a no-doubt home run and a 2-0 lead.
UF answered with a run in the bottom of the frame on Nelson Maldonado’s one-out, RBI single that plated leadoff batter Austin Langworthy, who walked on four pitches to open the inning.
The Gators then took the lead in the bottom of the second, scoring four times, and never looked back.
With two runners on and two outs, Jonathan India hit a fly ball to short left-center that Saints’ left-fielder Dan Lowndes got to but then dropped, allowing both Blake Reese and Nick Horvath to score for a 3-2 UF lead.
JJ Schwarz followed with a no-doubter to deep left, extending the Gators’ lead to 5-2.
Florida scored single runs in the fourth on Schwarz’s RBI single and in the sixth on Maldonado’s two-out, RBI double to extend the lead to 7-2, then added a pair of runs in the seventh on Wil Dalton’s leadoff solo homer and India’s two-out, RBI single.
Sophomore Keenan Bell’s solo homer in the eighth closed out the scoring.
Schwarz went 3-for-5 at the plate with three RBI to pace the UF attack, while Reese and Horvath both went 3-for-4.
“I just felt really good up there,” Schwarz said. “I was getting pitches I could drive and putting good swings on them. Hopefully I can keep that going into Sunday.
“The whole team swung the bat really well, so it was a good day for the Gator offense.”
Kowar (1-0) picked up the win while Siena starter Tommy Miller (0-1) took the loss.
Freshman right-hander Jack Leftwich and junior closer Michael Byrne threw the final two innings, with Byrne retiring the Saints in order in the ninth to end the game.
Florida also played errorless ball in the field.
The two squads close out their three-game set with the series finale at 1 p.m. Sunday.
Sophomore right-hander Tyler Dyson is slated to start for UF while Siena will try to avoid the sweep behind junior right-hander John Nolan, Jr.
Who: Siena (0-2) vs. No. 1 Florida (2-0)
When: 1 p.m.
Where: McKethan Stadium
Radio: AM-850, 98.1-FM
Pitching matchup: Siena RHP John Nolan (Career: 1-7, 9.80 ERA) vs. UF RHP Tyler Dyson (Career: 4-0, 3.23 ERA)