Florida scored five first-frame runs and held off a late-inning Jacksonville rally to beat the Dolphins 8-4 at McKethan Stadium.
JU (21-16) forced UF freshman Nolan Crisp to throw 28 first-inning pitches Tuesday. He threw 18 before recording his first out, which also brought home the Dolphins’ first run on a sacrifice fly by Angel Camacho.
It didn’t take the Gators long to answer.
In UF’s first at bat in the bottom half of the first, Brady McConnell smacked a 2-2 pitch into the left-field bleachers, his team-leading eighth home run, to tie the game at 1-1. Five batters later, Florida (25-14) had a 4-1 lead and JU had yet to get an out.
UF was led by Jacob Young, who went 3-for-4 with three RBIs, Cory Acton, who drove in two, and Jud Fabian and Wil Dalton, who each plated a run.
“I (just have) the same approach as I always do,” Acton said of batting with runners in scoring position. “It’s trying to barrel up a ball and hope that it’s hit hard in the gap somewhere.”
After the first, Florida pitching settled down for the next six innings. Junior Justin Alintoff tossed 2 2/3 scoreless, freshman Ben Specht threw 1 1/3 scoreless to follow Crisp, who earned his second win after giving up the one run on four hits with two Ks in three innings.
“They’re all talented, it’s just (a matter of) slowing the game down,” Florida coach Kevin O’Sullivan said of his pitching staff. “They’re starting to figure it out, now we’ve got to be able to take the next step and be able to do it on the road.”
Camacho launched UF reliever Kris Armstrong’s second pitch of the eighth into the bleachers and four batters later, Cory Garrastazu hit a moonshot into the palm trees beyond the right-field wall as JU (21-16) chipped into UF’s lead and make it a 6-4 game.
But Florida added two insurance runs in the bottom of the inning and Nick Pogue earned a four-out save, his first of the year, to close the door.
“You always want to make it to where the tying run’s not at the plate with a runner on so we wanted to get one or two to get a little more space and put a little less pressure on our pitchers,” Young said.
UF swept the season series from Jacksonville (5-4 win in Jacksonville and 13-8 in Gainesville). The Gators will begin a three-game set with LSU in Baton Rouge on Thursday night.
Who: Florida vs. No. 14 LSU
When: 7 p.m. Thursday
Where: Alex Box Stadium, Baton Rouge, La.
TV: SEC Network
Radio: AM-850, 98.1-FM