Florida shuts out Ole Miss to clinch series

Metal clinked behind coach Kevin O'Sullivan as spoke with frustration and hope during Thursday's batting practice. "It will turn at some point," he said. At some point, it'll all fall together: at-bats, solid starts on the mound, the elimination of small mistakes. Well this weekend, it turned. The Gators posted back-to-back shutouts against the Rebels for their first SEC series win of the year.

After falling to No. 11 Ole Miss 4-3 in 11 innings Friday, Florida registered a 7-0 win on Saturday and a 4-0 win Sunday to nab the home series. The Gators hadn't chalked up consecutive shutouts since the 2010 season.

"It's not easy to do in college baseball," O'Sullivan said. "To be able to do that in back-to-back games against a quality team like Ole Miss says a lot about our pitching."

While veteran right-hander Jonathon Crawford threw a complete game Saturday, UF penned freshman lefty Danny Young as Sunday's starter to face off against Ole Miss' Chris Ellis. Young struggled in his previous outing earlier this week against Florida State when he balked the Seminoles' winning run to third base in the eighth inning.

Prior to the game, O'Sullivan said Florida's coaching staff only expected to get four or five innings out of Young before pulling him for sophomore closer Johnny Magliozzi. However, Young hurled 5.1 innings and allowed only one hit and two walks in his 65 pitches before Magliozzi came in for him in the sixth inning.

"He obviously exceeded our expectations and gave us exactly what we wanted and more," O'Sullivan said.

Of course, it wasn't just Florida's pitching that earned them the win. The Gators' defense was error-free and the offense came alive early, allowing Young to relax on the mound.

"That's huge — having an offense (that's) able to put up runs and knowing as long as you put up zeros, we're going to win the game," Young said.

Florida exited the first inning with a one-run advantage after catcher Taylor Gushue chalked up two-out single and advanced to second on a throwing error by Ole Miss third baseman Andrew Mistone. Right fielder Justin Shafer reached first off a fielding error by Rebels shortstop Austin Anderson, and Ellis hurled a wild pitch, allowing Gushue to score.

The second inning, however, was one that could've broke Florida's spirits at the plate.

Left fielder Connor Mitchell drew the leadoff walk, designated hitter Mike Fahrman doubled into left field and senior shortstop Cody Dent walked to load the bases. However, the Gators missed the scoring opportunity, letting the inning slip away with a fly out and a double play.

"You could feel the momentum shifting," O'Sullivan said of the inning. "It got their dugout excited, and rightfully so. Ellis made some really big pitches."

But when the orange and blue returned to the plate in the third, they made up for it.

Ellis delivered the leadoff walk to Gushue, Shafer doubled and Gushue scored off the left fielder Tanner Mathis' throwing error. Third baseman Zack Powers sac bunted Shafer to third for senior captain Vickash Ramjit — and he delivered. Ramjit pulled a two-run homerun over the left-field wall to put the Gators up 4-0.

"When you don't score when you have bases loaded with nobody out, it kind of lingers," O'Sullivan said. "As the innings go by, you keep looking at that second inning, how you let a golden opportunity slip by, but (Ramjit) erased that immediately the next inning."

Ramjit has homered three times so far this season. Prior to Sunday, his most recent bomb was against Indiana March 8th.

Following Sunday's series snag, O'Sullivan said the back-to-back wins serve the Gators with momentum in the midst of a rough season.

"We've had some injuries," O'Sullivan said. "We've got some youth. We made some mistakes early on, but with that, we've been waiting for a weekend to turn a corner and take a big step in the right direction. I certainly hope this weekend will do that for our team."

Sophomore DH comes up big at the plate

Mike Fahrman didn't see any action during his inaugural season at Florida last year, but the sophomore delivered strong at-bats for the Gators in their series against the Rebels.

The Tampa, Fla., native pulled a 2 RBI double Saturday and a double Sunday as Florida's designated hitter.

"He's one of those program players," O'Sullivan said. "He's doing everything he possibly can to help out his teammates. He's always in the bullpen. He's one of those guys that the other guys root for."

Fahrman is listed as a catcher on Florida's roster.


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