The Florida Gator baseball team got its first true road test on Friday night in a windy and exhilarating 11 inning extravaganza against No. 1 ranked Miami. In the 2-1 win, the Gators secured the first win of the three game series against the Canes. The Gators recorded their sixth straight win to open the season.
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On the Mound:
Florida’s Friday night starter Tommy Mace made his second appearance of the season. He recorded eight strikeouts, only allowing two hits and one run. Pitching seven innings, Mace went toe to toe with Miami’s ace Brian Van Belle. Van Belle notched nine strikeouts and only allowed one earned run through seven innings. Gator coach Kevin O’Sullivan said, “I’m really proud and pleased. Tommy (Mace) started for us and gave us seven strong innings.”
However, it was Florida’s bullpen who were able to seal the deal for the Gators. Righthander Ben Specht secured his second win of his career while Nick Pogue picked up his second save of his career after coming into a tight spot in the 11th inning with the tying runner on base with no outs.
“Obviously Tommy was the pitcher of the night, but I’m really pleased with how (Pogue) has bounced back after a tough outing Sunday,” O’Sullivan said. “He pitched extremely well Wednesday night, and pitched in a tough environment tonight in probably the most difficult part of the game.”
Sophomore Christian Scott also made an appearance in the game following Mace. The three sophomores only allowed one hit across four scoreless innings to allow the Gators to clinch the game in extra innings.
Right-fielder Jacob Young was the star of the game, slapping an RBI double down the third base line in the bottom of the 11th with two outs and a his teammate Austin Langworthy on third ready to score the go-ahead run. Young’s double was one of eight total hits for the team on the night, three of those belonging to him.
Weather conditions were a factor for the Gators, especially for a team who has been red hot at the plate in the past five games. O’Sullivan said, “It was just a really hard night to hit. The wind was blowing 20 miles per hour from left field to right. Anything hit in the air wasn’t going to go anywhere. The playing conditions weren’t really conducive for an offensive night.”
However, O’Sullivan classified Young’s night at the plate to be exceptional and also pointed out that his team played excellent defense to keep the Hurricanes at bay.
Overall, O’Sullivan was pleased with his teams performance. “All in all, it was a really, really good win for us, a win we should be able to build off of,” he said. “But it’s a long season. We’ve got a long way to go.”
The Gators will face off again with the Canes on Saturday at 7 p.m. at Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field. A win on Saturday for the Orange and Blue would mark the team’s sixth consecutive regular-season series over Miami.