On a night where the wind gusted in and across right field the entire night, it was fitting that sophomore outfielder Jacob Young, who started in right, came through with the game-winning RBI double in No. 2 Florida’s 2-1 victory over No. 1 Miami at Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field.
With the score knotted at 1-1 in the 11th inning, Florida got consecutive one-out singles from senior outfielder Austin Langworthy and junior utility man Jordan Butler, who hit the first pitch he saw as a pinch hitter. Young came to the dish with two outs and smacked one down the left field line to plate the winning run.
Young also had a hand in the Gators’ other run Friday night, as his bunt single in the fifth inning preceded Nathan Hickey’s walk that loaded the bases. The run that broke the scoreless tie came off a throwing error on a double-play attempt on a line-out to the shortstop.
The first seven innings were a duel of starting pitchers, with junior Tommy Mace allowing just two hits and striking out eight – one shy of his career high – in seven innings. The only run Mace allowed came via a sacrifice fly in the sixth.
Florida’s bullpen was outstanding once again, with sophomores Christian Scott, Ben Specht, and Nick Pogue combining to allow just one hit across four shutout innings. Specht picked up the second win of his career, while Pogue earned the second save of his career. Pogue came up huge in the 11th, as he struck out the red-hot Adrian Del Castillo and went through the heart of Miami’s order after he inherited the tying runner with no outs.
STANDOUT STAT: 9.2 – consecutive scoreless innings pitched by Specht. The Fort Myers, Fla., native’s streak dates back to last year’s season-ending loss to Dallas Baptist in the NCAA Tournament, when Specht threw 4.1 scoreless innings. He has yet to allow a hit this season in his 5.1 innings.
Florida’s bullpen as a whole has been stellar thus far, as it boasts a 1.70 earned run average (six runs allowed) across 31.2 innings. Gators relievers also have 34 strikeouts against 12 walks this season.
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Young. On a night when hitting was incredibly tough, Young put together the sixth three-hit game of his career and his first multi-hit game of the season. The Ponte Vedra, Fla., native finished three of five with a pair of singles and the game-winning RBI double.
FROM COACH KEVIN O’SULLIVAN:
On the win and pitching performances… “I’m really proud and pleased. Tommy (Mace) started for us and gave us seven strong innings. Christian (Scott) came in and did what he needed to do. Ben (Specht) came in and gave us a solid inning. And Nick (Pogue) came in in a really tight spot, with a runner on and nobody out. Obviously Tommy was the pitcher of the night, but I’m really pleased with how (Pogue) has bounced back after a tough outing Sunday; he pitched extremely well Wednesday night, and pitched in a tough environment tonight in probably the most difficult part of the game.”
On the offensive struggles due to the conditions… “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. Jacob Young had an exceptional night with three hits. We did just enough offensively, but we played really good defense. Give credit to their starter as well; he had a really good changeup going. We saw a kid behind him who’s a senior, and we got the All-America closer Federman there at the end. All in all, it was a really, really good win for us, a win we should be able to build off of. But it’s a long season. We’ve got a long way to go. We’ve got to get a little bit better offensively. We struck out 14 times tonight. We’ll talk about that at breakfast.”
UP NEXT: Florida has a chance to clinch its sixth consecutive regular-season series win over Miami, and it also has the chance to start 7-0 for only the third time in O’Sullivan’s 13-season tenure (the Gators also opened 7-0 in 2011 and 2018).