The Florida Gators opened the 2022 season with a dominant win led by two of their returning veterans. LHP Hunter Barco pitched six strong innings while OF Sterlin Thompson provided the power with a pair of no-doubt homers off the batter’s eye in center to lead Florida past Liberty, 7-2.
Barco was electric as he relied mostly on his fastball and slider. He struck out the first five hitters he faced and finished with a career-high eleven.
The southpaw ran into a little trouble in the sixth inning, after a walk and a single, but recovered with an inning ending strikeout to complete his outing.
As for the offense, the Gators got on the scoreboard in the first inning on an RBI groundout by Kendrick Calilao that sent Jud Fabian home.
In the second inning, OF Wyatt Langford crushed a ball over the fence in center to put Florida up 2-0.
Thompson’s first homer came in the fifth inning, a solo blast the banged about halfway up the batter’s eye. Two innings later, Thompson’s grand slam hit a similar area of the batters eye and put the Gators on top 7-0.
Liberty added a pair of runs in the eighth including a solo homer by Derek Orndorff, who made an insane catch in center to rob Jud Fabian of extra bases earlier in the game.
A trio of freshmen saw action out of the bullpen for the Gators: Nick Ficarrotta, Philip Abner, and Ryan Slater.
Thompson finished with a career high 5 RBI.
Florida and Liberty will continue the series on Saturday at 4:00 PM.