Florida went for the kill shot in the first inning.
The No. 1 Gators knocked off South Florida in dominant fashion on Friday night, scoring six runs in the first inning and carrying the early lead to a 9-1 final at Alfred A. McKethan Stadium.
Florida remained undefeated on the season, advancing to 14-0.
UF scored all of its runs with two outs in the first against USF starting pitcher Collin Sullivan.
After Gators center fielder Jud Fabian and left fielder Austin Langworthy reached on a walk to begin the frame, Sullivan forced two quick outs and was on his way out of trouble.
The Gators then went on a run-scoring torrent, tagging Sullivan for six two-out runs. Florida drew first blood on Jacob Young’s two-RBI base hit to right field. The hit plated Fabian and Langworthy, and it extended Young’s hitting streak to 15 games dating back to last season.
Then it was bombs away for UF.
After Sullivan walked sophomore second baseman Cory Acton, sophomore first baseman Kendrick Calilao smashed a three-run home run on the first pitch he saw, making it 5-0 in favor of the Gators.
Freshman Nathan Hickey followed by hitting a dinger for the second-straight game to close out the inning.
USF could do nothing to follow up UF’s explosive start against Gators ace pitcher Tommy Mace. The sophomore locked down the Bulls’ offense throughout his seven innings, surrendering zero runs and allowing just two hits and two walks against an offense that was hitting just .192 as a team coming into the matchup.
Mace (3-0) struck out six batters and lowered his season ERA to 1.32, placing very little pressure on Florida’s offense to do any more damage against Sullivan (1-2).
USF’s starter finished his night on the mound with four innings pitched, six earned runs, seven hits, five walks and five strikeouts.
Florida’s bats continued to hit in each inning, collecting 13 overall, but it failed to push any runs across until the bottom of the seventh against Bulls reliever Joe Sanchez.
Hickey attacked on a 0-1 pitch from Sanchez and notched another RBI after Acton and Calilao reached with zero outs, hitting a sacrifice fly to center, making it 7-0.
Freshman shortstop Josh Rivera and Fabian got on to load the bases, and senior third baseman Kirby McMullen grounded an infield RBI single to add to Florida’s lead. Later, junior pinch hitter Jordan Butler walked to tack on another run.
After Florida’s second big inning of the evening, freshman reliever Brandon Sproat stepped in for Mace to close out the final two innings of the game.
Sproat, Florida’s 99 mph torch in the bullpen, gave up a leadoff solo home run to Bulls pinch hitter Dillon Besnier in the top of the ninth, but that’s all he allowed.
UF and USF will go at it again on Saturday at McKethan Stadium. First pitch is at 4 p.m.
You can contact Dylan O'Shea at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @dylanoshea24.
McMullen, No. 52, will return to Florida for another year.