No. 8 Gators Toss Combined One-Hitter to Edge Bethune-Cookman
GAINESVILLE, Florida – Five Gator pitchers combined for a visiting Bethune-Cookman hit as No. 8 Florida picked up a 3-2 midweek win Tuesday night.
Right-handed reliever Nick Ficarrotta allowed the only hit in the contest, though he paced the Orange & Blue with 4 1/3 quality innings to help the Gators claim their sixth midweek victory in as many games this year.
On the offensive side, Ju Fabian homered twice en route to a 3-for-5 night with 10 total goals, two runs and two RBIs.
The Gators (16-5, 2-1 SEC) fell behind the Wildcats (8-12, 3-0 SWAC) in the first inning, as Bethune-Cookman scratched a run on zero hits and four walks. Leading man Malik Stephens reached via a step and stole second, later advancing to third on a foul on the first baseman BT Riopelle. Stephens manufactured the run all on his own, flying home to make it a 1-0 game.
Bethune-Cookman extended their lead in third, with Matthew Garcia scoring an unearned run on a field error by third baseman Colby Halter.
Ficarrotta pitched brilliantly after entering the first inning, allowing an unearned run while cruising Florida until the fifth.
The score held at 2-0 in favor of the Wildcats until the bottom of the fourth, when the Gators managed to manufacture a run. Ty Evans and Rene Lastres tallied back-to-back singles, giving Florida runners the corners. From there, the Orange & Blue executed a safety pressure as Mac Guscet brought Evans in with a sacrificial bunt at first base.
From the fifth round, J. Fabian took over. On a 1-1 count late in the fifth, Fabian hit his team-leading ninth homer of the year with a drive over the left-center field fence. The big fly propelled him into sole possession of sixth place on Florida’s all-time home run list with 41 career homers.
Two innings later, Fabian smashed the frame’s first pitch deep to left center for a solo shot. Fabian’s 42nd career outburst gave the Gators a 3-2 lead while marking the Florida center outfielder’s seventh multi-home run game.
Following a white game of Tyler Nesbitt in the sixth, left-handed Philip Abner produced zeros in the seventh and eighth innings to hold Bethune-Cookman in check. Abner gave the game to another first-year reliever Karl Hartman in the ninth, who worked around a starting step to secure the first save of his young career.
Abner (1-1) earned his first career victory, shooting two shutout innings on a walk while striking out two. Hartman also retired a pair of Wildcat hitters while working scoreless ninth.
Bethune-Cookman reliever Joan Gonzalez (0-3) struggled with the loss, pitching four innings with three earned runs allowed on seven hits while striking out four. Wildcats starter Alec Mendez lasted an inning and allowed a hit with one strikeout to his credit.
Florida starting pitcher Nick Pogue pitched two-thirds of an inning to open the game, allowing an earned run on four walks.
J. Fabian (3 for 5) and Guscette (2 for 3) had multiple hits in the win.
- Florida has thrown its first hit in the past eight seasons – since limiting Missouri to one hit on March 26, 2014.
- The last time the Gators allowed fewer hits – i.e. threw a no-hitter – was also against Bethune-Cookman on June 1, 2012, when Jonathon Crawford hit a no-hitter in Game 1 of the 2012 NCAA Gainesville Regional.
- The Gators improve to 6-0 in midweek games this year.
- J. Fabian’s fifth-inning homer marked the 41st of his career, putting him in sole possession of sixth place on Florida’s all-time homer list.
- Fabian hit his 42nd homer in the seventh inning, marking his seventh career multi-home run game and his second so far this season.
- In his last 76 games dating back to Feb. 24 of last season (against North Florida), Fabian hit 30 homers.
- Fabian had 10 total goals on Tuesday, as his three hits went for extra bases: two homers and a double.
- Pogue made his second start since returning from Tommy John surgery after a 733-day hiatus from March 10, 2020 to March 13, 2022.
- Florida is now 34-1 against Bethune-Cookman, including a 33-1 mark at home.
- Florida is 14-1 against the Wildcats under the head coach Kevin O’Sullivan.
- The Gators have now won three straight against Bethune-Cookman.
- Florida is 37-7 in the program’s last 44 regular season games at Florida Ballpark.
- The Gators are 22-4 in their last 26 regular season home games.
- The Gators have won 15 of their last 18 games overall.
- Kendrick Calilao the team’s leading 10-hit streak came to an end, as he failed to register a hit in an eighth-inning appearance.
FROM HEAD COACH KEVIN O’SULLIVAN
On Bethune-Cookman’s performance…
“Bethune played really well. They played some really good teams on their schedule. For a program that didn’t get a chance to play last year, they’re looking forward to it. They came in early. I think we we stretched at 3:05 and they were already there They were ready to play I think their pitching was really good tonight They pitched with their off-speed pitches in number of fastballs Halfway through the game they were running a guy there hitting 94 and had a good slider and didn’t walk a lot. They played good defense. It was one of those games where it wasn’t going to be a game where they were going to walk two guys for start an inning and kick a ball. It was a clean game for them, so hats off to them.”
On what he saw on the first-inning home robbery…
“I don’t know. I think it took everyone by surprise. Lesson learned, but he can really run. I think the main thing is Mac [Guscette] probably needs to peek before returning the ball to the pitcher. It doesn’t happen very often, but certainly don’t expect it to happen again.”
On Pogue returning from Tommy John…
“It’s tough. He probably thinks things through a bit. It’s not an easy thing to come back to. Normally in a perfect world you go through all your rehab stuff in the offseason and then you have the opportunity to throw some intra-team games, but he didn’t get that opportunity. He was rehabilitated and thrown to our batters, so this is his first outing. I know he’s probably frustrated, but that’s part of the process. It is what it is.
The Gators host No. 21 LSU this coming weekend in a three-game top-25 series at Florida Ballpark. Game 1 airs Friday on SEC Network at 7 p.m., while Game 2 and Game 3 air on SEC Network+ Saturday (6:30 p.m.) and Sunday (12 p.m.).