Florida baseball downs FAMU, 17-0, behind season-high 21 hits

Graham Hall
Gator Sports

Behind a season-high 21 hits, the No. 14-ranked Florida baseball team picked up its seventh consecutive win Wednesday night, downing Florida A&M in dominant fashion, 17-0, at Florida Ballpark.

The Gators made quick work of the in-state opposition, jumping out to an early 2-0 lead in the first inning behind consecutive home runs from Jud Fabian and Sterlin Thompson. Fabian would add another home run in the sixth inning, a three-run shot. 

Highly touted freshman Rene Lastres hit a single in the fourth to score freshman third baseman Deric Fabian, and UF pushed the lead to 4-0 later in the inning when the Rattlers walked Jud Fabian with the bases loaded. 

BT Riopelle’s three-run blast in the fifth inning marked UF’s 11th hit of the night and subsequently extended the lead to 7-0. 

Jorge DeGoti doubled down the left-field line in the eighth inning for his first career hit with the Gators. 

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"It's important for these guys to be able to get out there and have some success, and build on it," UF coach Kevin O'Sullivan said. "Not to say that they're going to have success every time they go out there, but in my eyes, these types of experiences are important for us, especially now in this part of the season."

Here are 3 takeaways from Wednesday’s mid-week contest. 

Garrett Milchin makes most of midweek start

Sixth-year pitcher Garrett Milchin’s improbable collegiate career continued Wednesday night against Florida A&M. 

The Windermere native, who was a freshman on UF’s national championship-winning team in 2017, earned the midweek start on the mound and allowed just two hits across five scoreless innings. 

Milchin tossed 37 strikes across 56 pitches, including a pair of strikeouts to go along with a lone walk. 

The lone senior on the roster, Milchin’s experience – and presence – may prove to be invaluable for an underclassmen-heavy Florida team as the season progresses. But for Milchin, who has battled back from two Tommy John surgeries in his UF career, Wednesday night's performance was also a reminder of his path thus far. 

"There was definitely times when I thought 'maybe not', but once I got a bit of a taste last year, I knew that I'd be able to hang in there and work through it, "Milchin said. "It's something that most people don't get to do, hang around college baseball for six years, but I'm happy to be here."

Jud Fabian, Sterlin Thompson set tone

In the bottom of the first inning, Jud Fabian hit his second home run of the season to give the Gators a lead that they never relinquished, and Sterlin Thompson needed just four pitches to double UF’s lead with a solo shot of his own that sailed over the scoreboard in right-field.

Just like that, the night's standard at the battle had been set.

Fabian would reach base five times on the night, going 3-for-4 at the plate with two walks and two home runs. It was a promising sign for a Florida team that struggled at the plate just a week ago in a 3-1 win over North Florida, leading coach Kevin O’Sullivan to preach patience when it came to UF’s hitting. 

The season’s in its infancy, but Wednesday’s performance further indicated the team’s potential in the batter’s box remains high. 

"He's seeing the ball good," O'Sullivan said of Fabian. "I do feel like we've got some length in the line-up. We've got some decisions to make, what we're going to do this weekend (at Miami)." 

Phillip Abner improves ERA

Phillip Abner hadn’t had an ideal start to his freshman season. The Charlotte, North Carolina, native had given up five runs across six hits in 3.2 innings, giving him a 12.27 ERA heading into Wednesday’s match-up with the Rattlers.

But Abner made significant strides in his fifth appearance of the season when it came to improving his ERA, tossing a clean top of the eighth inning to lower his ERA to 9.64.

Abner’s usage to start the season should indicate there’s no long-term concern regarding his ability – if anything, his body of work in the first month of the season is a sign O’Sullivan has high hopes for Abner. 

"Like I said, (freshmen) all go through it. I wish they didn't. I wish it was an easier road, you know," O'Sullivan said. "You've got to keep in mind that a lot of these guys who have maybe struggled a little bit early on, they've never experienced failure at this level, you know, they've always been the best of the best. So, for me, I'm really pleased with how they've bounced back. It's a long season, and hopefully as the season goes on he continues to improve and get better, and hopefully we're playing our best baseball at the right time of the year." 

Florida A&M use 10 hurler

The Rattlers, who return home to host Ball State University for a weekend series beginning Friday at 4 p.m., tossed 217 pitches across 10 pitchers in Wednesday's loss against the Gators. Shawn Host started on the mound for Florida A&M but the left-handed junior lasted just 24 pitches after giving up first-inning home runs to Fabian and Thompson. 

Sophomore infielder Joseph Pierini, batting .364 on the season, led FAMU at the plate, going 2-of-4 on the night. 

Florida A&M has now dropped nine in a row to Florida, with the program's last win coming April 23, 2014, in a one-run victory.