Florida’s pitching staff silenced the Florida A&M bats for all nine innings.
Gators starting pitcher Tyler Nesbitt went four scoreless innings and was backed by the bullpen the rest of the way in No. 1 Florida’s 5-0 win over FAMU at Alfred A. McKethan Stadium on Wednesday night.
UF improved to 13-0 on the season, adding to its best start in team history.
In all, the Gators allowed just three hits to Rattlers hitters. Nesbitt (1-0) surrendered one hit and a walk in his four innings of work. The freshman also tacked on eight strikeouts against the 15 batters he faced.
UF’s bullpen took over from there and turned in a masterful performance. Gators reliever Justin Alintoff toed the rubber for two frames and allowed just one Rattler to reach base, striking out two.
The biggest surprise for Florida was freshman pitcher Brandon Sproat. Sproat, who had just two appearances this season coming into the game, was dominant and efficient in his two innings of work.
Sproat faced the minimum against FAMU with Rattlers batters never hitting a ball past the infield against him. The Pace, Florida, native struck out three hitters and forced the rest of his opponents to ground out. Out of his 21 pitches, 17 were strikes.
Freshman Ryan Cabarcas, the fourth and final Gators pitcher to appear, closed out the game for Florida in the top of the ninth.
UF, unlike FAMU, was able to put together an offensive attack, scoring five runs and reaching base 11 times.
Florida’s leading offensive force was designated hitter Jordan Butler. The junior notched two hits on the evening, both being extra-base hits.
His first knock came in the bottom of the third against FAMU starter Kyle Coleman (1-1). On the first pitch, Butler sent a double down the right field line to score sophomore center fielder Jud Fabian, making it 2-0.
UF’s designated hitter dealt the final blow of the game against Coleman in the fifth on a 3-2 pitch. With UF up 3-0 and Austin Langworthy on second with two outs, Butler smashed another pitch down the right field line. This time, the ball was high enough in the air to clear the McKethan Stadium wall, giving Butler his first home run of the year.
UF’s other scores came from the freshman bats of shortstop Josh Rivera and catcher Nathan Hickey.
Rivera got the Gators started in the bottom of the second with Jacob Young on second. With two outs, Rivera laced Coleman’s pitch to left field for an RBI single, giving UF an early 1-0 lead.
Hickey’s RBI was sandwiched in the middle of Butler’s extra-base hits. The Gators catcher, like Butler, also smacked a home run in the fifth against Coleman, sending a 3-1 pitch over the right field wall to make it 4-0. It was the first home run of Hickey’s collegiate career.
Florida will return to action on Friday against USF (5-7). Gators pitcher Tommy Mace (2-0) will get the start for UF, while Collin Sullivan (1-2) will take the hill for the Bulls.
First pitch is at 6:30 p.m. at McKethan Stadium.
You can contact Dylan O'Shea at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @dylanoshea24.