Gators move above .500 after win over North Florida

Graham Hall
Special to The Sun
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Florida outfielder Jud Fabian homered twice and drove in five runs Wednesday to help the Gators get past North Florida at Florida Ballpark.

After dropping their first series of the year to Miami, the Florida baseball team got back above .500 by securing the second game of the midweek series with the University of North Florida, 8-3, Wednesday night at the new Florida Ballpark. 

“Like I said before the weekend started against Miami, we were putting way too much emphasis on one weekend. These guys have been off for 11 months,” UF coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “The idea’s to get better. We keep talking about Miami, but that’s over with. I thought we bounced back tonight.”

It didn’t take long for Jacob Young to extend his hitting streak to 23 games when he doubled to center field to lead off the first inning. The No. 7 Gators (3-2) wouldn’t get another hit until the third inning, however, when Jud Fabian smashed his first home run of the year over the fence in left field. 

UNF (1-4) had a chance to tie things up in the next inning, but Florida catcher Nathan Hickey tagged Tanner Clark as he came across home plate to keep the Ospreys scoreless through four. 

“The only thing I’m concerned about is our team playing good,” O’Sullivan said. “And I thought tonight was the cleanest game we’ve played.”

Trey Van Der Weide entered at the top of the fifth inning for Chase Centala with Florida clutching the 1-0 lead. He’d give up a single but would strike out two UNF batters to keep UF’s lead intact. Kendrick Calilao singled to center field to lead off the fifth inning, then, thanks to a fielding error by North Florida, Colby Halter added a single of his own to send Florida’s first baseman to second before Jordan Carrion bunted to load the bases. 

Still without any outs, Young hit a sacrifice fly deep to right field to score Calilao before Fabian added his second home run of the night, a three-run shot to left to put Florida up 5-0. 

“There’s no pressing: it’s the game of baseball, you’re going to fail more times than you succeed, so I just kept at it and kept working hard, and got back to being able to hit two home runs tonight,” Fabian said. “Every time I play like this it makes the game more fun.”

Van Der Weide got into some trouble in the sixth inning. 

He walked two batters before Robbie Scott doubled deep to left field to send three runs across the plate and put the Ospreys on the scoreboard. UNF had a chance to tie it up, but Fabian made the throw and Hickey once again made the play at the plate to get the Gators out of the inning without further damage. 

“We got a great start by Centala, and I thought Trey came in and threw strikes, he just got himself in a situation where we scored four, turnaround and give up three,” O’Sullivan said. “That’s probably the only negative.”

Florida pushed the lead to 7-3 in the sixth inning when Fabian was walked with the bases loaded, scoring Calilao, and Hickey’s sacrifice fly brought home Halter. 

Christian Scott entered in relief in the seventh inning and once again didn’t allow a run, which he’s done in all three appearances this season. Calilao would hit a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the seventh inning to cap the scoring for Florida and push the Gators to their second victory in as many nights against UNF. 

UF will return to Florida Ballpark for a weekend series against Samford University, beginning Friday at 6:30 p.m.

Weekend series

Who: Samford (3-1) vs. No. 7 Florida (3-2)

When: 6:30 p.m. Friday, 4 p.m. Saturday, 1 p.m. Sunday

Where: Florida Ballpark

Radio: AM-850, 98.1-FM

Live streaming: SECNetwork+ 

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