NCAA Baseball News

Carter’s Corner: Rivera Blossoms Before Our Eyes, More Gators Baseball Tidbits

Rivera, Josh (2023 vs. Alabama)

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Gators breezed past Alabama in their Southeastern Conference opener on Thursday night, as right-hander Brandon Sproat tossed a one-hit shutout in a nifty 1 hour, 50 minutes. Florida’s 3-0 win was the program’s quickest game since a 2-1 victory over Florida Gulf Coast University in 2008 – also played in an hour and 50 minutes – that featured a future Cy Young Award runner-up named Chris Sale finishing on the mound for FGCU.

When the Gators and Crimson Tide returned to Condron Ballpark early Friday afternoon, it was to play an impromptu doubleheader due to a stormy forecast for Saturday. The two games, played with a one-hour break in between, totaled 5 hours, 27 minutes.

The Gators won the first game, 8-7, and Alabama took the second, 6-3.

“A long day at the park. They were two tough games,” said UF catcher BT Riopelle, who crouched behind the plate for both. “We really wanted to solidify a [series] sweep there because those are the type of games that solidify you a national seed or win you a conference championship in the regular season, stuff like that, but we didn’t get it done.”

Fifth-ranked Florida (18-4, 2-1) failed to sweep, but that is no reason to fire nasty Twitter missives or to bury your head under the covers for days. Alabama (17-4, 1-2) is a veteran team with a dangerous lineup, led by fifth-year senior first baseman Drew Williamson, who went 5-for-10 with a homer and six RBI in Friday’s doubleheader.

Florida has completed 40 percent of the regular season (22 of 55 games). With a rare empty schedule over the weekend, head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said the team would take Saturday off, return to practice Sunday and Monday, and then head to Florida State for Tuesday night’s Sunshine Showdown at Dick Howser Stadium.

There is much to still learn about this Gators team, but based on its body of work, one player the Gators can’t lose if they are going to make a run at a national championship is shortstop Josh Rivera.

Shortstop Josh Rivera has been a key catalyst for the Gators in 2023. (Photo: Brieanna Andrews/UAA Communications)

Rivera is blossoming into one of the nation’s top players right before our eyes. The fourth-year junior, immensely talented since he first stepped onto the field for the Gators, has grown in his mental approach to the game.

In the Gators’ win in Game 1 Friday, Rivera slapped an infield single down the third-base line to score the winning run in the bottom of the ninth. The Gators…

Click Here to Read the Full Original Article at Florida Gators…