Delanie Gourley’s bid for a perfect game ended when Florida International right fielder Dominique Grossman homered to left field with one out in the sixth inning — the first home run that Florida’s pitching staff has allowed in 2016.

By that point in the game, however, Gourley had received all the run support she needed.

The junior southpaw pitched a stellar one-hit shutout against FIU (11-7) to drive the No. 1 Gators (18-0) to a 3-1 triumph in the opening game of the Aquafina Invitational at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium.

“Delanie (Gourley) had as good of stuff as she’s had all year,” coach Tim Walton said in a release.

“She had her rise ball going and was getting ahead of hitters, which enabled her to get swings and misses.”

Gourley retired the first 16 batters she faced and tallied a career-best 11 strikeouts en route to her seventh victory on the season.

The game against the Panthers marked the second time this season she has taken a perfect-game into the fifth inning or later.

“I’m really, really happy to see her go out there and compete well,” Walton said. “She set the tone for us tonight.”

The Gators tagged the Panthers early, scoring in the bottom of the first inning.

After Kelsey Stewart began the game with a four-pitch leadoff walk, Kirsti Merritt singled. A follow-up RBI single by Amanda Lorenz gave Florida the early advantage.

The Gators didn’t score again until the fifth, when a Janell Wheaton sacrifice fly plated junior Justine McLean.

UF added to its lead when sophomore Nicole DeWitt scored an unearned run in the sixth as a result of an error by FIU’s first baseman, capping the scoring on the night.

Florida has a doubleheader tomorrow, beginning with South Alabama at noon followed by a rematch with the Panthers at 2:15 p.m.

Contact Brian Lee at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @brianlee_17

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