GAINESVILLE, Fla. - Florida had a pair of offensive outbursts, and junior starting pitcher Tommy Mace threw a gem Friday night, as the top-ranked Gators routed South Florida, 9-1, at McKethan Stadium at Perry Field. UF moved to 14-0 on the season, and as of publication, were one of two remaining undefeated Division I teams (unbeaten Alabama was tied, 1-1, with Lipscomb in extra innings).
Mace threw seven innings without allowing a run, yielding just two hits, two walks, and logging nine strikeouts. The Tampa, Fla., native has not allowed a run in his last 11.1 innings pitched.
Florida's offense gave him plenty of support, with all of it coming in the first and seventh innings. Continuing their knack for driving in runs with two outs this season, all six of the Gators' runs in the opening frame came with two outs.Two of their three runs in the seventh also came with two outs.
Sophomore outfielder Jud Fabian and senior outfielder Austin Langworthy led off the bottom of the first with walks, and a deep flyout to center moved them into scoring position. Following a strikeout, sophomore outfielder Jacob Young extended his hitting streak to 15 games with a two-RBI single to right field.
After sophomore second baseman Cory Acton drew a four-pitch walk, sophomore first baseman Kendrick Calilao belted a three-run home run over the left field bleachers. Three pitches later, freshman Nathan Hickey hit his second home run in as many games to make it 6-0.
Hickey added another RBI in the seventh with a sacrifice fly, and the final two runs were brought in via a two-out infield single from Kirby McMullen, followed by a four-pitch, bases-loaded walk by junior utility man Jordan Butler.
STANDOUT STAT: 24 - consecutive innings Florida went without allowing a run prior to giving up the ninth-inning homer Friday. The last run UF allowed was a one-out single in the bottom of the second against Florida Atlantic Tuesday night.
Friday night's home run also ended a scoreless streak of 22.2 innings pitched for Florida's bullpen.
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Calilao, Hickey, and freshman shortstop Josh Rivera. The trio composed the 7-8-9 third of the Gators' lineup Friday, and they combined to go 8-for-12 with five RBIs and four runs. Rivera also made a handful of standout plays at shortstop, drawing high praise from head coach Kevin O'Sullivan after the game.
FROM COACH KEVIN O'SULLIVAN: On the win and Mace's performance... "We got off to a really good start. Led the game off with two walks, Kendrick [Calilao] had the big home run to left field, and Nathan [Hickey] followed up behind him with another home run. Bottom half of the lineup did a really good job tonight. Between Kendrick, Nathan, and Josh [Rivera], our 7-8-9 hitters, we had eight hits between those guys. We got a lot of production at the bottom half of the order. Kirby [McMullen] had a good night offensively with a couple hits. Jordan Butler had a couple more hits. Offensively, we spread it around.
"Tommy was really good tonight on the mound. Thought he was really efficient. It's the second game in a row where our pace on the mound was outstanding and we pushed the tempo of the game. Hopefully, we can continue to do that. It was a good Friday night."
On the scoring drought after the first inning... "I talked to the guys at the end of the game ... we scored six in the first, which is really good, but we can't let ourselves get too comfortable. We've got to continue to have good at bats. I'm not saying we have to score every inning, but we left a lot of guys on base, did not have very good at bats, and I thought we lost our focus. We cannot do that when we start SEC play. We have to play a nine-inning ballgame. We've got to learn from that. We're playing well right now, but we don't have this whole thing figured out. We can't get too relaxed and too comfortable to a point where we think we have all the answers, because right now we don't. There is an underlying lesson to be learned tonight, even though it looked like the score was a little lopsided."