Gators blank Dolphins to even series

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Fifth-ranked Florida flexed some power from the mound and at the plate Saturday night to even the series with Jacksonville, 9-0, at Florida Ballpark/McKethan Field.

"We'll see, but I think we learned a lot about our team tonight," UF coach Kevin O'Sullivan said. "We bounce back from a tough night last night (10-9 loss).

"You really don't know how your team is going to respond from a tough night last night and they certainly responded positively."

Fourth-year junior pitcher Jack Leftwich kept the Dolphins (4-9) bats silent as he allowed just two hits and struck out seven in six innings to improve to 3-0. Freshman Jordan Carrion and second-year freshman Brandon Sproat combined to toss three innings of hitless relief.

"He was really good tonight," O'Sullivan said "Got us deep into the game because our bullpen was a little light. He did a really nice job."

Second-year freshman shortstop Josh Rivera opened the scoring for the Gators (12-4), smacking his second home run in consecutive at-bats as he laced a liner over the left field wall in the second inning.

The Gators expanded their lead to 3-0 when second-year freshman Nathan Hickey launched a two-run shot over the wall in center for his fourth home run on the season.

Florida tacked on one more in the sixth to push the lead to 4-0 when freshman Colby Halter scored on a wild pitch. The Gators added five more in the eighth inning to secure the win. Third-year sophomore Jud Fabian recorded a two-run single and Kirby McMullen ripped his third home run on the year, a two-run shot over the wall in center.

The Gators collected 12 hits and were led by Hickey's 3-for-5 performance. Fabian and McMullen both tallied two hits apiece.

The Gators look to secure the series Sunday when the teams meet for the rubber match at 1 p.m.