By Zach Abolverdi/Correspondent
Less than 24 hours removed from rewriting the record books, the Florida baseball team wrote another chapter Wednesday against another in-state opponent.
The top-ranked Gators continued their hot start against Florida A&M after defeating Florida Atlantic on Tuesday night, opening the season with a 12-0 record for the first time in school history. The streak became 13-0 with another win in the series against the visiting Rattlers.
Jacob Young opened the bottom of the second inning with a double to left field, extending his hitting streak to 14 games and leading to UF’s first run. Josh Rivera’s single plated Young and Florida never trailed, cruising to a 5-0 win.
“We didn’t really think about the record that much. This was another game, so we just wanted to go out and try to win,” said Jordan Butler, who had his best performance of the season. “This team is awesome. Our group is so tight and laid back. Nothing bothers us and we’re just going to keep rolling.”
The Gators took a 2-0 lead in the third on Butler’s double down the right-field line, scoring Jud Fabian. They pulled away in the fifth with a pair of home runs from Butler and Nathan Hickey, the first of the season for both players.
“It felt great,” Butler said. “I’ve been waiting 13 games to hit one. So it’s good to get the first one out of the way. Hopefully some more will come.”
Butler’s homer plated Austin Langworthy, who also had his second hit of the game in the fifth with a double to left center. Florida A&M made a change at pitcher before the inning was over, replacing starter Kyle Coleman with Zach Morea.
“Obviously Jordan’s been swinging the bat really well for us. Looks like he’ll probably get a chance to be in the lineup a little bit more,” UF coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “Nathan’s always been able to hit. I think he’s just starting to see the ball a little bit better and getting more comfortable.”
Freshman Tyler Nesbitt received his first career start on the mound for Florida, allowing no runs and one hit with eight strikeouts in four innings. Nesbitt didn’t find out he was getting the nod until five minutes before the team stretch.
“I was a little nervous at first because it’s always been my dream to start here at McKethan Stadium. It was a surreal moment,” Nesbitt said. “I heard Brandon Sproat was starting all morning, then (assistant coach) Lars Davis told me I was. So it kind of took me by surprise, but I was happy.
“The older guys helped me get ready before the game. I felt like I did pretty good. My defense helped me out a lot and Hickey did a really great job behind the plate.”
Justin Alintoff and Sproat pitched two innings apiece in relief, with Sproat hitting 99 MPH on the radar gun to end the top of the eighth. Another freshman pitcher, Ryan Cabarcas, finished off the game with a pair of strikeouts in the ninth.
“I thought the whole game started on the mound with Nesbitt. He was really good,” O’Sullivan said. “The tempo was outstanding, his fastball command was really good and I thought all of our pitchers did a really nice job. I can’t be more pleased with the way Brandon Sproat’s starting to come on.”
UF will be back home Friday for a three-game series against South Florida. The Bulls are 5-7 on the season, but swept Northwestern at home last weekend.