Nick Horvath stood tall on second base with his hand on his belt buckle. After the Gators center fielder sent a double to left center field that scored two Gator runners, he whipped out some familiar dance moves.
“I’ve got two wins (in Fortnite),” Horvath said. “It’s in the past week, so I’m hot lately.”
Horvath, who came into Tuesday’s game hitting .315 and playing some of the hottest baseball on the team, went 3-for-4, scoring twice in addition to his two-RBI double.
His final hit of the night was part of a seven run fifth inning that helped No. 2 Florida (16-3) secure a 12-6 win at McKethan Stadium against the No. 7 Florida State Seminoles (14-3). Tuesday night’s victory over the ‘Noles was UF’s 11th win in the past 12 meetings against its in-state rival as the Gators handed FSU its third straight loss.
“I don’t really know about (that streak),” coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “We’ve just had some really good teams that have played some really clean games.”
Freshman Jordan Butler got the nod from O’Sullivan following his heroics on Saturday. Butler provided the game-ending RBI single to complete UF’s sweep of Rhode Island over the weekend.
His start Tuesday night came up short of his actions on Saturday. The young southpaw gave up four runs on five hits in fewer than three innings of work.
The Seminoles started the scoring early in the bottom of the first. Back-to-back solo shots from first baseman Rhett Aplin and catcher Cal Raleigh gave FSU an early 2-0 lead.
Aplin would touch ‘em all again in the fourth inning on a two-run blast into the right field netting, doubling the ‘Noles lead, 4-2.
After Aplin’s second home run, O’Sullivan pulled the plug on Butler’s start.
“All in all, we threw three freshmen again tonight. It’s a learning experience,” O’Sullivan said. “It’s just a matter of making a couple pitches here and there to get out of an inning.”
But the offense pulled some strings and saved Butler from his second loss of the season.
Third baseman Jonathan India joined the home run bandwagon in the bottom of the second. Florida’s third baseman sent a lofty fly ball to the student section in left field that just escaped the confines of Perry Field, giving UF its first run of the ballgame.
UF got another run back in the bottom of the third on an RBI groundout from JJ Schwarz.
After a few scoreless frames, Schwarz came back to the plate in the fifth inning with the bases loaded. The senior sent a deep fly ball to left that was caught at the warning track. The shot was deep enough for Austin Langworthy to score from third and tie the game at four. He finished the game 1-for-3 with two RBIs and a walk in his last AB.
In the fifth, an RBI groundout off the bat of Deacon Liput, kick-started UF’s seven-run inning, putting Florida on top for the first — and last — time in the ballgame.
In addition to Horvath’s double, first baseman Keenan Bell came through with a two-run double of his own. And in his second at bat of the inning, Langworthy sent a single through the left side to score Horvath in the process.
Florida scored its final two runs thanks to India's bat. He hit a sacrifice fly in the sixth, and launched a home run that nearly reached the doors of Gate 2 at the O’Connell Center.
The junior finished 2-for-2, scoring three times and driving in three runs. He collected his fifth and sixth home runs of the season, but said he doesn’t consider himself a power hitter.
“If I put a good swing on the ball and square it up, it’ll go pretty far,” India said.
With the offense in a groove, the Gators' bullpen took control after Butler was pulled, guiding the Gators through 6.2 near-flawless innings. Butler’s relief gave up only one hit prior to the eighth inning, when FSU picked up its final two runs of the game.
Tommy Mace hurled 3.1 scoreless innings, striking out four and walking only two batters, as Andrew Baker, Jack Leftwich and Michael Byrne finished the game for Florida.
The Gators will hit the road to start conference play. South Carolina will host UF this weekend, with Florida expected to throw its usual weekend starters. O’Sullivan said the trip to Columbia won’t be easy.
“Any time you go on the road for the first time in the league, it’s just a totally different atmosphere,” O’Sullivan said. “We’re gonna have to handle that as well.”