Through six innings, Florida mustered just three hits against South Florida pitcher Michael Clarkson.
And still, despite USF’s 10 hits, the Gators and Bulls were locked in a 4-4 game in the seventh inning.
Until Jonathan India stepped into the box.
The freshman laced a double down the left-field line, scoring Dalton Guthrie from first to give UF a 5-4 lead, its first of the game.
The rally continued as the No. 1 Gators (41-8) busted the game open with five more runs in the inning to defeat the Bulls 11-4 Tuesday night at McKethan Stadium.
Florida’s 41 wins ties the school record for most regular-season victories, and the team still has two series left.
But UF coach Kevin O’Sullivan was more proud of a different statistic — that his team finished 14-0 in midweek games.
“I don’t know how much stock other people put into it, but for me personally, it’s a heck of an accomplishment,” he said.
O’Sullivan gave the starting nod to Scott Moss, who was roughed up in the first inning.
The Bulls knocked the left-hander around to the tune of three runs on five hits, scoring first on Duke Stunkel’s RBI fielder’s choice and then on run-scoring singles from David Villar and Joe Genord.
Moss, who had allowed just four hits and one run through 13.1 innings all season, skyrocketed his ERA from 0.68 to 2.20 in his three innings of work.
In an early 3-0 hole, the Gators responded quickly in the bottom half.
Sophomore JJ Schwarz brought in Florida’s first run on a sacrifice fly out, and junior Peter Alonso drove in another on a double to left to cut USF’s lead to 3-2.
Neither team scored again until the sixth inning.
South Florida (21-27) boosted their lead to 4-2 on a Kevin Merrell RBI single. Merrell was a tough out all night, finishing 3-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored.
In the bottom half, UF tied the game without recording a hit.
Junior Buddy Reed lined a ball to USF left fielder Cameron Montgomery, who misplayed it, allowing Schwarz to score from second. Then, freshman Nelson Maldonado plated the tying run with an RBI groundout.
Florida’s offense finally found a rhythm when USF replaced starting pitcher Michael Clarkson with Garrett Bye.
The Gators rattled off four straight hits off Bye, including India’s RBI double and an Alonso run-scoring single to give UF a 6-4 advantage.
Alonso, who finished 3-for-4 with three RBIs, said the pitching change helped ignite the hit parade.
“Once you get something going like that, hitting is extremely contagious,” he said. “We just kept it going.”
After Schwarz scored on a passed ball, freshman Deacon Liput followed with a bases-clearing triple to lift UF’s lead to 10-4. The Oviedo native had struggled lately, hitting just .211 in his last 11 games.
“It felt really good,” he said. “My coach has been preaching to me not to do too much. I just choked up and battled.”
Alonso tacked on Florida’s final run with an RBI single in the eighth inning. The Tampa native took sole possession of the team’s RBI lead with 47.
The relief combination of Frank Rubio, Dane Dunning, Kirby Snead and Shaun Anderson held the Bulls to just one run over the final six innings to nail down the victory.
The Gators next host Vanderbilt this weekend for a three-game series, starting Friday at 7 p.m.
Contact Patrick Pinak at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @Pinakk12
Outfielder Buddy Reed celebrates with teammate Jonathan India (6) after hitting a three-run home run during Florida's 10-4 loss to Mississippi State on April 9, 2016, at McKethan Stadium.