Special to The Sun
JACKSONVILLE — No. 1 Florida earned its first shutout of the season Tuesday with a 4-0 win over North Florida.
It was a pitcher’s duel through four innings before Keenan Bell blasted a ball off the right field wall for a leadoff double in the fifth. After a wild pitch allowed Bell to take third, Blake Reese brought him home with a RBI groundout to give the Gators a 1-0 lead.
Florida extended the lead in the top of the sixth with a RBI double from senior captain JJ Schwarz. Wil Dalton, who moved up in the lineup to the leadoff spot, singled to center and scored on Schwarz’s double.
Freshman Jordan Butler, making his second start of the season, pitched six scoreless innings with six strikeouts to earn his first career win.
“It all started on the mound tonight with Jordan Butler,” UF coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “He was outstanding. Six scoreless, then we handed the ball off to Jack, another freshman.
“We got eight scoreless innings out of them and we didn’t walk anybody, only made one error on a ball that kind of came up on Brady (Smith) a little bit. It was good to get Michael (Byrne) back out there.
Florida added two more runs in the seventh and eighth inning for the final margin.
Jack Leftwich and Michael Byrne combined to pitch the final three innings.
On the night, UF pitchers scattered just four hits (three singles, one double) and none of the runners advanced any further than when they reached base.
The teams play again today at 6 p.m. in Gainesville.