Jacksonville Sports Day

Gators, Huricanes Renew Rivalry at Florida Ballpark

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Unanimous preseason No. 1 Florida opened its 2021 season and Florida Ballpark at Alfred A. McKethan Field with a 7-5 win over No. 21 Miami, marking the Gators’ 16th victory in their last 19 games against the Hurricanes.

Freshman catcher Nathan Hickey delivered the first hit and home run in Florida Ballpark with a two-out moonshot to right field in the bottom of the first inning.

Miami pushed a run across in the second via a leadoff double, walk, and single, but junior right-handed pitcher Tommy Mace worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the third inning, which effectively put a charge into Florida’s offense.

Freshman infielder Josh Rivera and sophomore outfielder Kendrick Calilao opened the fifth with singles, and sophomore outfielder Jacob Young drove in the go-ahead run with a single through the right side. The RBI single also extended Young’s hitting streak to 19 games.

Following a walk by sophomore outfielder Jud Fabian, Hickey sent a shot down the right field line, which caught the right edge of the foul line and hopped over the wall for a ground-rule double. Hickey’s two-RBI double put the Gators ahead 4-1.

Florida plated another in the sixth via a triple by Rivera and single by Calilao in consecutive at bats. In the eighth, sophomore first baseman Kris Armstrong launched a missile over the right field berm for a two-run home run and a 7-1 lead.

Sophomore right-handed pitcher Christian Scott took over for Mace after the fifth and did not allow a hit in three innings. Miami rallied with four runs in the ninth, but junior right-handed pitcher Franco Aleman shut the door with two outs in six pitches and earned a save in his Gators debut.

Friday night starters set the tone, and after Mace worked himself into a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the top of the third inning, he was electric. After he induced a lineout, Mace froze preseason All-America first teamer Alex Toral for the first of five strikeouts in the next seven batters he faced.

Even with some early bumps and a pitch count of 50 with nobody out and two men on base in the third inning, Mace finished the night with eight strikeouts and just three hits, two walks, and one run allowed across five innings.

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