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UF Baseball: Gators Win Opener with Two-Out Hits

Press release from the University Athletic Administration

The Gators strung together two-out hit after two-out hit in a season-opening 9-2 win over Marshall Friday night at McKethan Stadium. Florida broke a 1-1 tie in the bottom of the third inning with consecutive two-out hits – a double by senior Kirby McMullen and an RBI single by sophomore Cory Acton – and eventually pulled away with a combined five runs in the sixth and seventh innings.

Florida’s first run of the season came in the bottom of the first, as sophomore Kendrick Calilao plated McMullen with a two-out single to center field. UF’s pair of runs in the fourth came via a two-out double from junior catcher Cal Greenfield, followed by a single from sophomore outfielder Jud Fabian. Then in the seventh, again with two outs, sophomore Kris Armstrong blasted a three-run home run over the palm trees beyond the right field wall – which gave the Gators the seven-run cushion they ended the game with.

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Acton and Fabian finished with two hits apiece, as did freshman Nathan Hickey, who scored two runs and started as the designated hitter.

Fellow freshman Josh Rivera, who earned the start at shortstop, hit a solo home run in the sixth inning.

Junior Tommy Mace earned the win, tallying six strikeouts in six innings and 92 pitches. Mace worked himself into and out of jams several times throughout the evening, as Marshall collected eight hits but only managed a pair of runs. The Tampa, Fla., native also kept seven Marshall runners stranded.

Sophomore Ben Specht and freshman Nick Ficarrotta combined for the final three innings and did not allow a baserunner.

STANDOUT STAT: Seven. The Gators were seven of 15 with two outs – good for a .467 batting average – and finished with seven two-out RBIs. On the opposite side of that statistic, Marshall was just three of 12 and an RBI with two outs.

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Kirby McMullen. Praised unanimously by his teammates and the coaching staff for his dedication and work ethic despite limited playing opportunities through his first three seasons, McMullen started at third base, drew two walks, scored a run, and hit a double. In short: a savvy opener for one of the four seniors on this Gators roster.

FROM COACH KEVIN O’SULLIVAN: On the team tonight… “It’s opening night. There are a lot of different things that happen. I’ve seen guys that went in the first round struggle a little bit on the mound. Or you don’t hit like you think you’re going to hit. It’s just one of those things, you’ve just got to get through the first weekend. I thought we handled it well.

“We’ve got some new faces in there. Kirby (McMullen) even though he’s been in our program, he’s a senior, it’s his first game starting at third base. Got a shortstop that’s a freshman. Kris Armstrong playing first – didn’t really play a whole lot last year. Cal (Greenfield) behind the plate, who hadn’t really caught a whole lot. Like I said… they’ve been three of our most improved players. That’s probably the right message to send to your team. If you earn it, you earn it.”

On Kirby as a teammate the last three seasons… “He’s been a great teammate. I mention that to our team all the time. Just yesterday, I was talking about it. Here’s a guy who’s always, I call it, the right side of the dugout. He’s always down with the coaches. He’s always doing something to try and help the team win. Oftentimes, when guys feel like they’re not getting the opportunity to play as much as they should, they end up going down to the third base side of the dugout and they’re kind of in their own world. I call that the wrong side of the dugout.

“(Kirby’s) always done things to help us win. He’s the first guy out of the dugout when somebody does something good. I’m just really pleased he’s getting an opportunity now. I feel good he’ll always give you a good effort.”

UP NEXT:

Saturday | 4 p.m. (SECN+)

Sunday | 1 p.m. (SECN+)

Florida

RHP Jack Leftwich

RHP Nick Pogue

Marshall

RHP Brady Choban

RHP Jeffrey Purnell

SATURDAY PARKING INFORMATION
Due to the men’s basketball game versus Vanderbilt on Saturday, Feb. 15, the O’Connell Center lot will be closed off for basketball season ticket holders. Baseball fans may park in the O’Connell Center Parking Garage until full. The next parking option is in Garage 14 off Gale Lemerand Dr. Free shuttle services will be provided. Drop-off locations will be at Gate 2 of Exactech Arena for basketball, and at the Lemerand Center entrance on Stadium Rd. for baseball.

PROMOTIONS

Saturday, February 15th vs. Marshall

  *   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!
  *   Section Wars – Two sections will compete against each other for the chance to win a prize courtesy of Domino’s.
  *   Military and First Responders – All military members and first responders, active and retired, may purchase half-priced GA tickets.
  *   Seniors – All senior citizens, ages 55 and older, may purchase half-priced general admission tickets while supplies last.

Sunday, February 16th vs. Marshall

  *   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!