By Zach Abolverdi, Correspondent
The bats came alive Friday for the Florida baseball team.
The Gators racked up a season-high 17 hits to win their series opener against Winthrop, 16-4, before 3,335 at McKethan Stadium. Ten different players found success at the plate, including eight of the nine starters.
“It was a good night for us offensively,” UF coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “You gotta be pleased with what we were able to do. There are some guys that are starting to see the ball better.”
It was a rough start for Florida’s Tyler Dyson, who threw 30 of his 94 pitches in the first inning. He walked three batters, including Spencer Yankle with the bases loaded as Winthrop went up 1-0.
“I can’t do that,” Dyson said. “I thought a better job after the first of getting back under my pitch count. I felt more comfortable after that and just kind of settled in.”
The Gators got on the board in the bottom of the second inning with a solo shot to left field from Jud Fabian, his second homer this year. Austin Langworthy put UF ahead in the third with a two-run RBI hit down the first-base line.
After a throwing error by second baseman Jacob Young, the Eagles’ Hunter Lipscomb made it 3-2 on Jake Sullivan’s sac fly. UF responded with a season-high nine-run inning in the fourth, which lasted a half hour.
McDonnell singled to third base to bring home Brady Smith, and then Kendrick Calilao was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded. Nelson Maldonado cleared them with a deep shot to the top of the wall, putting the Gators up 8-2.
“Nelly just missed hitting a grand slam there,” O’Sullivan said.
This prompted the Eagles to switch pitchers, but Jason Crumley didn’t fare much better.
A fielding error by Winthrop’s third baseman allowed Maldonado to score, and Florida extended its lead to 12-2 on RBI singles from Jacob Young, Brady McConnell and Wil Dalton.
Dyson gave up a homer to Matthew Mulkey in the fifth, his final inning of the night. He finished with six strikeouts and a 2.92 ERA, giving up two hits and four walks.
Fabian scored on a wild pitch in the seventh, and another error by third baseman Roberto Peña provided Winthrop with its fourth run. The Gators got it going again in the eighth inning, with Kirby McMullen’s sac fly to score Flint and Langworthy’s two-run homer.
Florida (7-4) faces the 3-4 Eagles on Saturday at 4 p.m.