The Florida Gators improved to 11-3 by defeating Florida Atlantic 18-11 in the first of a two game, midweek series at Condron Family Ballpark Tuesday.

Despite a bullpen that continued it’s struggles, the offense is proving it’s ability to pick up a lackluster pitching performance. Josh Rivera had a massive day at the plate (2-3, 2HR, 9 RBI) in leading the Gators past FAU.

The Owls actually got on the scoreboard first to lead off the contest as three-hole hitter Nolan Schanuel homered to right for an early 1-0 advantage. Just prior to his solo shot, the Gators defense turned a double play that helped limit the damage.

Florida’s response was immediate as they responded with a season high six runs in the bottom of the first while batting around.

After a 1-2-3 top of the second, a heavy rain cell brought out the tarp for a 41-minute delay.

After play resumed, the Owls once again struck first, this time by way of Schanuel’s second big fly of the night, a three-run shot to straightaway center that closed the deficit to 6-4 in the third inning.

Yet again, the Gators responded immediately with a solo shot from Ty Evans in the bottom half of the third inning to make it a 7-4 ballgame.

These two offenses weren’t done yet, not by a long shot.

FAU struck for five runs in the fourth inning as Tejada and Ryan Slater proved ineffective. The Owls plated five on four hits and three Gators walks and took a 9-7 lead to the bottom of the fourth inning.

As they had done from the beginning, the Gators responded immediately. A Josh Rivera sacrifice fly plated Cade Kurland while Langford scored on a bases loaded hit by pitch for Evans. Following a FAU pitching change, Jac Caglianone scored on a wild pitch to put the Gators back on top, 10-9.

Florida added three more in the fifth as Rivera crushed his second three-run homer and increased the lead to four runs.

Schanuel’s hat-trick saw him crush a Ryan Slater pitch to right-center to cut the Florida advantage to 13-10.

The Gators added five runs of insurance in the bottom of the eighth to put this game out of reach. Rivera’s two-run single highlighted the action. The Florida shortstop finished the night with nine RBIs, the most by a UF player since JJ Schwarz in 2015.

FAU played one in the top of the ninth, but the Gators lead was too much as Brandon Neely closed out the win.

These two squads meet in Gainesville Wednesday with the first pitch scheduled for 6:00 PM.

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