Gator Pitchers Dominate vs. USF

After the first weekend of the season, there are only two pitchers on the Florida roster with an earned run average above zero. The stats don't stop impressing after that, either. It's hard to find an arm that wasn't dominant over the weekend, whether starting a game or coming out of the bullpen.

It's the first sign that head coach Kevin O'Sullivan will have plenty of arms to work with throughout the season.

The numbers are hard to believe.

In the 27 innings over the weekend, Florida pitchers struck out 31 hitters. They allowed 22 hits, with only five for extra bases. Two pitchers allowed the extra base hits. Hudson Randall gave up a triple and two doubles in his start on Saturday, but only one of those scored. Alex Panteliodis gave up a home run and a double in relief on Friday.

The pitching staff gave up only three runs in the series and held USF to a .220 batting average.

The dominance began with the starting pitchers. Brian Johnson, Randall and Karsten Whitson didn't come out of the gates with any rust. The pitch count was at 70, so their production was limited as they stretch their arms out to go deeper in games.

The three starters combined for 17 innings pitched, allowing ten hits, one run, one walk and 21 strikeouts. They threw 198 pitches, with 149 of those being strikes—coming out to 75.3% of the time.

Once the starters came out, the bullpen didn't experience a drop off. They allowed more base runners than the starters, but the relievers pitched around the hits and worked out of trouble.

The relief pitchers worked ten innings, allowing 12 hits, one walk and one runs. They recorded ten strikeouts. The relief pitchers also filled up the strike zone. They threw 120 of their 165 total pitches for strikes, good for 72.7% of the time.

The entire pitching staff didn't throw a wild pitch or hit a batter.

How good was it? The 11th pitcher that trotted to the mound over the weekend for Florida was freshman left-hander Daniel Gibson, who was throwing 93-94 mph. It's an embarrassment of riches for O'Sullivan. He didn't even have enough innings to throw sophomore Austin Maddox, who threw 93 mph at a scrimmage on Wednesday.

It's a problem the Florida coaching staff will likely have more of. They'll be searching for innings to use the pitching and keep the arms happy, but that problem is much better than searching for more pitching, just as they did in O'Sullivan's first season.

The pitching didn't just dominate—it also evolved throughout the weekend. The USF hitters took a patient approach on Friday night against Johnson and tried to work the count, causing Johnson to throw first pitch fastballs for strikes.

On Saturday, they ambushed Randall early in the count and created a run in the first inning because of it. Randall adjusted when he saw their plan of attack, threw more off-speed pitches early in the count and settled in after that.

The Bulls went back to an aggressive approach against Whitson on Sunday. The freshman countered with more sliders and changeups early in the count, and he put together five shutout innings.

O'Sullivan will decide more about each pitcher's role as the season goes on, but right now there is only one certainly—he has plenty of pitching.

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