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UF Baseball: Gators Rally To Beat Troy, Reach 10-0 Mark

Florida is now 10-0, a record only three other Gators teams managed to open a season with.
Photo by Alexis Greaves

Courtesy of UF Athletic Association

It was not pretty Saturday evening, but the top-ranked Florida baseball team rallied to a 10-7 victory over Troy and is off to the fourth 10-0 start in program history.

The Gators dug themselves a 7-1 hole, with their only run by the middle of the fourth inning being a solo home run from sophomore outfielder Jud Fabian.

But Florida clawed its way back into the game, one run at a time, scoring once in the fourth (a sacrifice fly from junior catcher Cal Greenfield), once in the fifth (an RBI single from sophomore first baseman and outfielder Kendrick Calilao), and once more in the sixth (Greenfield came home via a passed ball) before amassing six runs in the seventh.

Sophomore outfielder Jacob Young led off the seventh with a single, followed by a Calilao walk, and a pinch-hit RBI single from junior utility man Jordan Butler, which made it 7-5. After a walk to load the bases, junior Brady Smith delivered a pinch-hit RBI single to bring the Gators within one run. Two outs later, senior third baseman Kirby McMullen drew a walk to tie the game. The following at bat, Florida emptied the bases off a throwing error from Troy’s second baseman.

Sophomore David Luethje picked up the win with a scoreless inning of relief pitching, while fellow sophomore Ben Specht, who took over for sophomore Nick Pogue with one out in the ninth, collected his second save of the weekend.

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STANDOUT STAT: 1.73 – the combined earned run average for Luethje, Pogue, and Specht since the end of the Marshall series. The trio combined for 15.2 innings pitched in the seven games since UF’s season-opening series, and they have only allowed three earned runs (four in total) over that span.

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Tyler Nesbitt. The Gators needed someone to take the hill and stop the bleeding, and that’s exactly what the freshman from LaBelle, Fla., did. Nesbitt, who had two previous appearances this season, entered in the fifth inning with a runner on first base, no outs, and Troy looking to get back to the top of its order.

After a walk, a sacrifice bunt, and an intentional walk to load the bases, Nesbitt fanned Troy’s No. 2 and No. 3 hitters to end the Trojans’ 7-1 scoring run. Nesbitt went on to hurl a scoreless sixth inning, after which he turned the game over to Florida’s aforementioned trio of standout relievers.

Nesbitt’s final line read: 2.0 innings pitched, two hits, no runs, two walks, and three strikeouts.

FROM COACH KEVIN O’SULLIVAN:

On the resiliency of the team once again… “I was thinking about that at the end of the game. Every year, it seems like the third or fourth weekend, we are not very sharp. For whatever reason. But we showed some fight. We came back. It was a little frustrating at times, because it felt like we were one hit, or one really good at bat away from putting up a big number early. But we hung in there, and that’s the sign of a good team.”

On Fabian’s injury that forced him to leave the game… “[He is] good. He just got stepped on. I didn’t want to take any chances this early in the year. We’ve got some depth to our lineup. There’s no sense in pushing it right now. I would think he’d be okay to go tomorrow, but if there’s any doubt, we will sit him out until at least Tuesday.”

On the bullpen performances… “Really pleased with the bullpen. I think the game really came down to Tyler Nesbitt’s outing. Two scoreless [innings]. He had to slow things down. Justin (Alintoff) gave up a run on three hits. [Nesbitt] came in and made a really big pitch to get out of a tough situation. You really try not to bring those freshmen in in situations where they’ve got to start in the stretch with runners on … but what crossed my mind was we had to see what he could do in this situation. We took a chance there with a young kid in a tough situation, and he came through. Hopefully he feels good about himself – which he should.”

UP NEXT: Florida looks to tie its school record for the best start to a season in program history (11-0) in Sunday’s series finale. The 1989 and 2002 Gators currently hold the record, as both teams started their respective seasons 11-0. Prior to Saturday, the 1956 Gators were the only other UF team to open the season 10-0.

First pitch between the Gators and Troy is slated for 1 p.m. Freshman left-hander Hunter Barco (1-0) is expected to face sophomore right-hander Tyson Ellis (0-0).

PROMOTIONS

Sunday, March 1st vs. Troy

  *   Giveaway – Youth lunchbox giveaway for the first 250 kids (12 and under) in attendance.
  *   Community Anthem – Kids (12 and under) can stand on the field next to their favorite Gators during the National Anthem! Sign-ups for this are on the third base side in autograph alley, beginning at 12 p.m. Sign-ups end at 12:30 p.m.
  *   Kids Circle The Bases – Kids (12 and under) can circle the bases following the game! Sign-ups for this are on the third base side in autograph alley, beginning in the 8th inning.
  *   Final Season Sign – Stop by the final season sign located next to the Gators Sports Shop on the concourse and take a photo!
  *   Kid’s Korner – Come check out the newest additions to Kid’s Korner, located on the first base side of the concourse. Kids (12 and under) have a chance to walk away with a prize.
  *   Foul Ball for Queso – If a fan catches a clean foul ball out of the air with no deflections, everyone in attendance will win free queso!
  *   Dollar Sundays – Fans may purchase general admission tickets for only $1!

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