FILE - In this March 4, 2020, file photo, Florida coach Kevin O'Sullivan meets with umpires before the team's NCAA college baseball game against Florida A&M in Gainesville, Fla. The top-ranked Gators are off to a program-record 16-0 start and the only unbeaten team in Division I. (AP Photo/Gary McCullough, File)

Strong Night from Rivera Lifts Gators to Win

If this Gators team can do anything, it’s fight to pull out a win. Florida managed to stay ahead of Stetson to win the first of back-to-back weekday games, 7-6.

After falling behind early, nearly the entire Gators lineup stepped up to string runs together.

“Offensively, I thought we were really good,” Gators head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said.

Rivera Arrives at the Plate

The Gators’ offense has been its strongest asset apart from Tommy Mace. A healthy offense, however, requires every man in the lineup to step up. This time, that man was Josh Rivera.

Entering the night, Rivera had been struggling with his batting all season. He just couldn’t find that moment to get it all going. Then, tonight happened.

Rivera’s night began in the fourth inning with the Gators already up 4-2. He belted a double down the left-field line to score Jordan Butler. In the eighth inning, with the Gators up 6-4, Rivera blasted an 0-1 pitch to left field for a home run.

This would end up being a crucial blast, as Stetson plated two runs in the top of the ninth to make it a one-run game.

O’Sullivan was impressed with Rivera’s performance. He is also happy with how good of a teammate he has been despite his overall performance of the season.

“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.”

Other Notes From the Night

Starter Garrett Milchin has a much-needed bounce-back outing on the mound. He pitched five innings of two-run ball, striking out four.

“I thought he was really efficient on the mound,” O’Sullivan said. “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.”

The Gators committed four errors in the field. O’Sullivan expressed his displeasure for it–holding his team accountable despite the win.

“The bottom line is, we made four errors tonight and still waiting to put together a complete game,” he said. “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.”

The Gators are back on Wednesday night to face Florida A&M. The game will be aired on the SEC Network Plus and radio coverage will be on 98.1FM/850 AM WRUF.

About Harrison Smajovits

Harrison is a sports coordinator at ESPN 98.1 FM/850 AM WRUF. He served as a beat writer for Florida Gators football for the 2019 and 2020 seasons. He also contributes to WRUF's Gainesville Sports Center segments and makes appearances on the Clash on Harp on Sports. Harrison has been a content writer for WRUF since January 2019 as well.

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