Jacob Young’s historic hit streak ended Tuesday, but as he watched his line drive retreat over the left field wall and into the Wednesday night sky, he hardly seemed troubled.
Young’s three-hit, three-RBI night powered the Gators at the plate as they dispatched Stetson 10-7 for their fifth victory in six days.
Stetson struck first at the plate. In the opening inning, designated hitter Hernen Sardinas powered a ground ball between first and second, the first run Florida’s starter Timmy Manning allowed all season.
It wouldn’t be the last for the freshman lefty. In the second inning, Manning grabbed two quick outs before five straight batters reached base. The onslaught included a pair of 2-RBI extra base hits, a triple from center fielder Andrew Macneil and a double from left fielder Nick DiPonzio.
DiPonzio’s knock chased Manning off the mound, and the freshman’s first career start ended with a fetid five earned runs in just 1.2 innings of work. Despite the early deficit, there was never any panic in the Florida dugout.
“We know how good we are,” catcher Nathan Hickey said. “We know what we can do. We’re a very talented offensive team, so we know, if you go up five, we can put up five just as easily as you did.”
The Gators, not used to trailing early in 2021, began to crawl back. A pair of runs in the bottom of the third kicked the rally off. Left fielder Jacob Young, one day after his historic 30-game hit streak expired, tacked on a solo home run in the fourth inning.
The floodgates burst in the fifth. First baseman Kris Armstrong brought Florida within a run before Young came through again, this time with an RBI double, his eighth of the year. Hickey, who owned a .182 average since his breakout opening weekend, gave Florida its first lead with a single that reeled in two to make it 7-5.
A three-run sixth inning increased the lead to five runs as Young and Hickey again batted teammates across home plate. The duo combined for seven hits and six RBIs in a night a long time coming for the catcher.
“These past couple games, I felt like I was seeing the ball better,” Hickey said. “My swing just felt more compact and how it normally is.”
The Gators cruised the rest of the way and, when closer Franco Aleman recorded the final out, walked away with a three-run win. Florida moved to 11-3 on the season, now on its second five-game win streak of the year.
Despite the victory and the enviable record, O’Sullivan wouldn’t call his team polished quite yet with four games until conference play as he noted the problems closing out innings on the mound.
“Everybody’s feeling good that we won a ballgame, and we should,” O’Sullivan said. “But at the same time, when you get into SEC play, some of these mistakes that you make won’t get covered up with a win.”
The Gators will host Jacksonville in a three-game weekend series. Friday’s game is scheduled to begin at 6:30 pm.
Contact Ryan Haley at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @ryan_dhaley
Ryan Haley is a second-year journalism major with a sports & media specialization from Jacksonville, Florida. He grew up playing a bunch of different sports before settling on golf, following Rory McIlroy and all Philadelphia sports teams. He also loves all things fiction, reading, watching shows and movies and talking about whatever current story or character is in his head.