When Jordan Butler hit a grounder to the right side of the infield that scored Deacon Liput for the game-winning run, the freshman was mobbed by his teammates down the first-base line.
Butler had been called on to pinch hit moments prior by coach Kevin O’Sullivan. The Tampa native took full advantage, smacking a walk-off single to help Florida defeat Rhode Island 3-2 on Saturday and complete its third weekend sweep of 2018.
“It was like nothing I’ve experienced before,” Butler said. “I haven’t really done anything here to get the crowd cheering like that. It was awesome.”
Now, the No. 1 Gators (15-3) will prepare for their first matchup against No. 4 Florida State (14-2) this season — a game scheduled for Tuesday at 6 p.m. in Gainesville.
As for Butler, a two-way player, he hasn’t pitched since Wednesday when he picked up the first loss of his Gator career. The freshman went five innings against the UCF Knights, giving up two runs on three hits during the game.
“I thought he threw the ball good,” O’Sullivan said of Butler.
Now, with plenty of rest for his arm and six days in between pitching appearances, it’s a possibility that the young righty will be on the hill against Florida’s first top-five opponent of the 2018 season.
But Tuesday won’t be a cakewalk for the Gators regardless of who’s on the mound. FSU comes into the contest with a .419 on-base percentage and has a pitching staff that is arguably as stellar as the Gators’, posting a 2.59 ERA.
However, the Seminoles enter Tuesday’s game against Florida having lost their previous two games at the hands of Wake Forest.
FSU was on the opposite end of a walk-off on Saturday, losing 4-3 to the Demon Deacons in the bottom of the ninth. Wake Forest then blew out FSU 8-1 on Sunday.
After Tuesday’s matchup against the Seminoles, the schedule intensifies for Florida as it opens SEC play. UF will travel to Columbia, South Carolina, later in the week to open a three-game series starting Friday at 7 p.m.