Rivera leads No. 6 Florida to victory over FAU

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Florida Athletics

Photo: Florida Athletics

GAINESVILLE, Florida. – No. 6 Florida used a night of nine RBIs by shortstop Josh Rivera to win Game 1 of its midweek series against Florida Atlantic by a score of 18-11 at Condron Family Ballpark on Tuesday night .

Rivera had a career night against the Owls, going 3-for-4 with two homers, a career-high nine RBIs and two runs scored. Rivera’s nine runs were the most scored by a Gator since JJ Schwarz drove 10 against Stetson on April 7, 2015.

The Owls (7-5) took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first on a two-out solo home run from Nolan Schanuel to right field. It didn’t take long for the Gators (11-3) to recover the point and then some, responding with a season-high six-run first inning. Josh Rivera homered a three-run homer to the batter’s eye in center field, followed by another three-run shot – this one to the left center of Tyler Shelnut’s bat.

A 41-minute weather delay halted the game late in the second inning after a Wyatt Langford brace with one out. Langford was eventually waived, allowing the Owls to cut their deficit to two runs on Schanuel’s second long ball of the night – a three-run homer to center immediately.

With a 6-4 lead in hand, Ty Evans gave the Orange & Blue a boost in the third. Evans connected for a home run for the second straight game, leaving the court at a standstill.

Florida’s three-point advantage quickly disintegrated in the fourth as the Owls put together a five-point frame. The explosion was highlighted by RBI singles from Jalen Debose, Dylan Goldstein and Jackson Ross.

The Gators got back to work late in the fourth, reclaiming the lead with a trio of points. Rivera brought in the first with a sacrifice fly down the center, while Evans was drilled with the bases loaded and Jac Caglianone drove home on wild pitch.

Florida secured three more spots in the next round. With two ducks on the dugout, Rivera offloaded for his second homer of the game, setting a new career and team high with seven RBIs.

FAU tied the game within three runs in the sixth, as Schanuel hit his third home run of the night.

In the eighth, the Gators put the game out of reach. Florida added five more runs, starting with two-run singles by Langford and Rivera. BT Riopelle capped off the frame with a sacrifice fly to the center of the Caglianone plate.

The Owls didn’t go easy, with a Ross homer to left field to open the ninth. Florida Atlantic proceeded to load the bases, but reliever Brandon Neely steered the Gators away from extra damage to end the game with an 18-11 count.

Florida reliever Ryan Slater (3-0) took the win, pitching three innings with four earned runs allowed on five hits and two walks. He scratched one.

FAU right-hander CJ Williams received the loss after throwing 1 2/3 frame with three earned runs allowed on two hits and a walk.

Both starting pitchers received the no-decision Tuesday night. Florida starter Yoel Tejeda Jr. allowed six earned runs over three innings, allowing six hits and one walk. FAU starting pitcher Evan Waterbor wasted seven won hits in three frames, giving up five hits and four walks while striking out three.

In addition to Rivera, Langford (3 for 4) and Shelnut (2 for 3) had multiple hits in the victory.


  • A 41-minute weather delay halted the game late in the second set.
  • Florida tied its season high with 18 runs scored.
    –Tuesday’s combined 29 points are the most in a Florida baseball game since the Gators beat Winthrop, 28-5, on March 3, 2019 (33 combined points).
  • Rivera set a new career high with nine RBIs while tying his personal best with two home runs.
    – Rivera’s nine RBIs represent a new season high for the Gators and have the most by a UF player since JJ Schwarz drove 10 against Stetson on April 7, 2015.
  • Evans homered for the second straight game, hitting a solo shot in the third inning.
  • Kurland saw his 11-game hitting streak lead the team, despite reaching base four times and scoring four runs.
  • Florida struck out 163 in 120 innings, or 12.2 per nine innings.
  • Florida’s plus-82 point differential is the team’s best in 14 games since the 2003 season.
    – The Gators have scored in 68 of 114 innings this season (59.6%).
  • For the 12th time in 14 games this year, the Gators have recorded double-digit success.
  • The Gators have a national record 175 hits in 14 games (12.5 hits/game). The Gators improve to 25-10 against the Owls, including 19-8 at home.
    – Florida climbs to 12-5 against FAU under head coach Kevin O’Sullivan with a 9-5 record in home games.


To victory…
“I don’t know if it was that sloppy. The rain delay obviously wasn’t ideal, but I said on Sunday, FAU can hit. We have a freshman who is still trying to get his way against a tough-to-cross formation, they have five southpaws and a switch-hitter. There were two turns in the game. I think when Slater came back up top of fifth and made a one-two-three after we having scored three in the bottom of the fourth was huge for our momentum and obviously Josh’s defensive play in the bottom of the eighth with the first batter was outstanding play I didn’t realize he had nine RBIs on the night he’s just playing at a high level at the moment. Offensively, we were really good.”

On bullpen performance…
“The other takeaway for me, Ryan’s line doesn’t really indicate how he threw. The ball was coming out a different way than this weekend. His fastball had a bit of a jump. His slider was short and had a quick break at the end He had a bit of bad luck with the pop-up over the third baseman’s head and then the swinging bunt along the third base line. he had thrown the ball well, so we got him to a point where he felt good in his exit and got him out. [Nick Ficarrotta] inside, he did his job, we got him out. Philip [Abner] came in, did his job, we got him out. They swing on a first fastball, it was not located against Neely. His last three or four fastballs, they had real intent, so we have to keep bringing him out. In the end, he didn’t throw as much as we needed and once we get more of him he will be more consistent. For those three guys in particular in the middle, to do their job and not get out of control and like I said put a zero on top of the fifth and it was good to get them out, to be successful, to have them out, so now they can move on and hopefully we keep building.”

On FAU’s pitching and alignment…
“They attacked the strike zone. I think sometimes we nibble a bit early in the count, then sometimes with two strikes we get to 0-2, then it ends up being a 2-2 count, then we go in in a predictable number of fastballs. We still have some things to work on but, let’s face it, FAU’s lineup is as good as any lineup we’re going to see this year for the most part. It’s an SEC lineup and they have one of the best hitters in the country hit right there and they start the game left, left, left. Unless you can slow the ball down, they’re pretty good. I’ve always said that.


Florida and FAU face off again Wednesday night at 6 p.m. with coverage on SEC Network+.

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