GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The No. 12-ranked Gators defeated Stetson 7-6 on Tuesday night at Florida Ballpark behind a solid start from right-hander Garrett Milchin and 13 hits from the offense.
The biggest hit ended up being a solo home run by second baseman Josh Rivera in the bottom of the eighth inning. Rivera’s home run gave the Gators a 7-4 lead. It proved to be a critical insurance run.
The Hatters refused to go quietly into the night, as catcher Christian Pregent smacked a two-run homer off reliever Brandon Sproat with no outs in the top of the ninth to trim Florida’s lead to 7-6. That’s when Franco Aleman replaced Sproat and finished off the Hatters for Florida’s 18th win in 22 games at their new home ballpark.
Rivera starred at the plate for the Gators, going 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles, a homer and two RBI. Freshman right fielder Sterlin Thompson added three hits and an RBI, helping the Gators (19-9) overcome an early deficit after Stetson’s Brandon Hylton and Hernen Sardinas homered off Milchin.
Otherwise, Milchin held the Hatters (19-10) in check. In five innings, he allowed two hits, two runs and struck out four for his second win of the season.
The Gators took control by scoring three runs on five hits in the bottom of the fourth, chasing Hatters starter Jonathan Gonzalez (3 1/3 IP, 9 H, 4 R) as they turned a 2-1 deficit into a 4-2 lead. Thompson started the scoring outburst with a one-out single and before the frame was over, Jordan Butler, Kris Armstrong and Rivera each had driven runs home. The offense helped overcome Florida’s four errors on defense.
FROM UF COACH KEVIN O’SULLIVAN
On starting pitcher Garrett Milchin…
“I thought he was really efficient on the mound. He threw 63 pitches over five and gave up a couple of home runs, but other than that, I thought he threw the ball really well and gave us exactly what we needed in a midweek start.”
On Josh Rivera…
“I think if you go back to Saturday’s game, he was the first one out of the dugout when Jordan [Carrion] hit his home run. That spoke volumes where he is as a teammate right now. Those things don’t go unnoticed. We’re trying to move him around a little bit and give him as many opportunities as possible with Jordan playing really well at short. We’ve got some options.”
On team’s overall performance…
“Offensively, I thought we were really good. We just made some mistakes. The bottom line is, we made four errors tonight and still waiting to put together a complete game. We got really good starting pitching. I thought offensively we were really good, struck out only four times. But we didn’t play very good defense. We’ve just somehow got to figure out a way to put all three phases of our game together.”
ON DECK: The Gators play again Wednesday, hosting Florida A&M at Florida Ballpark. The game will stream live on SEC Network+ with radio coverage provided on ESPN 98.1 FM/850 AM WRUF.