Miami Sports Day

Gators Cruise Past Bethune-Cookman to Open NCAA Regional

GAINESVILLE, Fla. –– Junior Peter Alonso belted a pair of homers and drove in three runs as the top-seeded Gators took down Bethune-Cookman, 9-3, on Friday night at McKethan Stadium.

Friday’s contest marked the opening round of NCAA Regional play for the Orange and Blue, who advance to Saturday’s winning portion of the bracket and face UConn at 6 p.m. ET.

It didn’t take long for the Florida bats to open up against Bethune-Cookman’s Tyler Norris (6-4) as the Gators scored in four straight innings to get their night started.

UF grabbed a 2-0 lead early on with two away in the first as sophomore JJ Schwarz worked a 3-1 count for the free base and was driven in on the first of Alonso’s (3-for-4, 3 runs) two home runs.

The Florida bats continued to fire away in the second, building a 4-0 lead on two walks and a double. Newcomer Danny Reyes (2-for-2, 3 RBI) and junior Buddy Reed provided the primary damage after reaching on back-to-back walks and scoring on a Dalton Guthrie RBI-double and a Schwarz RBI-groundout.

The offensive attack carried into the third as the Gators used a pair of runs to build a 6-0 lead. Freshman Deacon Liput (1-for-3, run) doubled and Nelson Maldonado (1-for-4, run) reached on an error as Reyes stepped in and laced his first-ever triple down the left field line. Both Liput and Maldonado would plate runs off Reyes’ triple.

Trailing through three, the Wildcat offense answered with two hits and a solo run in the fourth. Freshman Danny Rodriguez doubled and was driven in on a Jameel Edney single to narrow the gap, 6-1.

UF was quick to answer in the bottom of the frame, Alonso stepped into the box with two away and kept the offensive attack going with a solo shot to rebuild a six-run lead, 7-1. The homer marked Alonso’s 11th on the season and 20th of his career.

Bethune-Cookman’s Justen Heron and Nate Sterijevski each plated runs in the seventh to make it a 7-3 game but Florida would once again trade scores on their ensuing at bat.

Alonso and sophomore Mike Rivera each drew a walk to lead off in the inning and newcomer Jonathan India took one inside to load the bases. Both Alonso and Maldonado would go on to score on a pair of sacrifice flies from Liput and Reyes for a 9-3 advantage.

Junior Logan Shore started the contest and was credited with the win after scattering five hits and two earned runs across 6 1/3 innings. With the win, he improves to 11-0 on the season and 5-0 in NCAA Tournament play over the past two seasons. The five-win park in tournament play ties Hudson Randall (2010-12) for the most NCAA Tournament wins in program history.

Freshmen Brady Singer and Michael Byrne and juniors Kirby Snead and Dane Dunning closed out the final 2 1/3 innings, limiting the Wildcats to a pair of hits and two walks.

The Gators (48-13) return to action tomorrow at 6 p.m.ET, vs. UConn (38-23) in Game 4 of the regional bracket.

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