WEST PALM BEACH — Top-ranked Florida defeated Florida Atlantic 7-3 on Tuesday to set the school record by opening the college baseball season 12-0, which surpasses the 1989 and 2002 teams that started 11-0.
“Any time you get to go on the road in the state, and give Gators fans a chance around the state that may not have a chance to see us play an awful lot because of the distance, it’s a good thing,” UF coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “We played awfully well tonight. Played great defense. Crowd was outstanding. And what can you say about our bullpen? Just outstanding tonight.”
Florida will return to Gainesville for a 6 p.m. game Wednesday against Florida A&M (4-5), which has won three consecutive games, for an opportunity to extend the streak.
Sophomore right fielder Jacob Young extended his hitting streak (13 games), as well as his run of multi-hit games (seven in a row) by going 3 for 4 with a run scored and two stolen bases against the Owls (7-4).
Florida’s Kris Armstrong had two hits and two runs batted in, Kendrick Calilao had two hits and an RBI and Austin Langworthy drove in two runs in front of 1984 fans at FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.
Jordan Butler started on the mound for UF and allowed three runs in two innings. Relievers David Luethje (2-0), Christian Scott and Ben Specht (third save) kept FAU off the scoreboard the rest of the way. The trio combined for 11 strikeouts and allowed just five hits and a walk.
“You just kind of sit back and look at the transformation they made from Year One to Year Two, and I’m really proud of all of them,” O’Sullivan said of his bullpen. “Last year was a little bit difficult for all of them at different times, and they all had success at times last year. But the way they’ve been able to be consistent through the first 12 games has been really good. I’m really pleased with how they’re starting to progress. It’s been a good start.”
Florida jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Sophomore outfielder Jud Fabian opened the game with a line-drive single, and Langworthy brought him home with an RBI double three pitches later. A groundout moved Langworthy to third base, and sophomore designated hitter Calilao drove him in with an RBI single to center. A pair of walks loaded the bases for sophomore first baseman Armstrong, who was hit by a pitch and brought the third run across.
FAU tied the game with two runs in the bottom of the first, and another in the second, but the Gators responded with two runs of their own in the third.
Three consecutive one-out singles put the Gators back in front, with sophomore second baseman Cory Acton delivering the RBI shot. A double steal moved UF runners to second and third, and Armstrong plated his second run of the night with a groundout to second base.
Florida scored a pair of insurance runs in the eight, courtesy of consecutive singles to open the frame, a walk, a fielder’s choice, and a throwing error by FAU’s catcher on a pickoff attempt at third base.