In the middle of the fourth inning Sunday, right before Mike Rivera was set to step up to the plate, Kevin O’Sullivan called a team meeting in the dugout.
Minutes earlier, Miami’s Romy Gonzalez blasted the first pitch he saw from Jackson Kowar over the right-field fence at McKethan Stadium to give the Hurricanes their first run of the three-game series.
O’Sullivan’s conversation was brief, maybe a minute at the most, but it was enough to spark a fire in his team.
“We just needed one guy to come up with a base hit with runners in scoring position to kind of loosen it up,” O’Sullivan said.
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No. 2 Florida responded to its first deficit of the weekend with a four-hit, three-run fourth inning and kept piling on the runs en route to a series-sweeping 6-2 win over No. 17 Miami. The win sealed the Gators’ first sweep over the Hurricanes since the 2012 regular-season series.
After going down 1-0 on the Gonzalez home run, Deacon Liput got the UF rally going with a one-out infield single. Nelson Maldonado ripped a pitch to left field on the next at-bat that resulted in a double after Miami’s James Davison slipped on the warning track while trying to field the ball. A Christian Hicks sacrifice fly brought Liput home before an RBI single from Nick Horvath and RBI double from Dalton Guthrie gave the Gators a 3-1 advantage.
Florida (6-1) then added a run in each of the ensuing three innings on a JJ Schwarz sacrifice fly in the fifth, a Dalton Guthrie RBI single in the sixth that scored Christian Hicks and a Nelson Maldonado sacrifice fly in the seventh that brought Ryan Larson home.
The Hurricanes (2-4) committed three errors in that four-inning span. Of the 11 errors Miami has committed this season, nine have come during Sunday-afternoon losses. Gonzalez added a second solo home run in the eighth to close out scoring.
“You have to learn from your mistakes and get better,” Miami coach Jim Morris said. “We faced a really good club. They played really well. … They took advantage of our mistakes.”
Kowar, Florida’s Sunday starter, improved to 2-0 on the season after giving up just the Gonzalez home run in 5 2/3 innings on the mound. The sophomore righty threw seven strikeouts and had solid command of his three pitches before fading in the sixth.
Florida’s pitching staff ended the series giving up 12 hits and the two runs from Gonzalez while striking out 33 batters.
Miami’s Michael Mediavilla drew the loss after giving up three earned runs off five hits in four innings of work. He is now 0-2 on the season with a 7.36 ERA.