Resiliency: The Gators were being no-hit after eight innings on Friday after dominant work by Tennessee starter Bret Marks. Most games that are close to no-hitters include some great defensive play that saves a hard-hit ball from being a hit. The first eight innings Friday didn’t even have that. Florida hit nothing hard and looked like it was about to be no-hit.
That changed with a Dalton Guthrie single in the ninth, and despite starting he inning down six runs, Florida brought the tying run to the plate. It may not have seemed like much, but it gave this team confidence, which was easy to see on Saturday and Sunday. Kevin O’Sullivan said after Sunday’s game that his young team could’ve gone into a funk after what Marks did to them. Instead, they bounced back and pounded out 17 runs and 25 hits over the final two games.
After being no-hit for the first eight innings on Friday, the Gators closed the series by scoring in 10 of their 17 innings at the plate.
Another bat: Jeremy Vasquez made his first college appearance during midweek games against Fairfield, and he kept hitting over the weekend against Tennessee. He broke his finger in a spring scrimmage and missed the first four weekends of the year. He went 6-15 at the plate in his first week with one double, and the freshman looks poised for a big role moving forward, especially against right-handed pitchers.
He can play first base or as a corner outfielder, but he also showed those areas need some work. He dropped a routine fly ball and made another error in the outfield on Friday. O’Sullivan insists that he trusts Vasquez in the outfield and chalked it up to the freshman needing to get back in the groove. Even if the defense is behind his bat, he looks poised to hit enough to earn a spot in the order.
Starting pitching: A.J. Puk was the only one of the Florida starters that pitched well this weekend, and that only lasted five innings. Logan Shore had easily the worst start of his career, giving up five runs on four home runs in six innings of work. It’s hard to hold that against him much after just one bad outing. Dane Dunning disappointed on Sunday, tossing three innings and allowing one run. The line isn’t terrible outside of the four walks. Florida took a 6-1 lead in the third inning, and instead of coming out and pitching to contact, Dunning walked the leadoff hitter and his day was done.
The Florida rotation looked solid coming into the year, but there were still question marks simply because Dunning and Puk hadn’t done it before. Puk has looked much better in recent outings, but he and Dunning both still have the ability to blow up and have a terrible inning.
Kevin O’Sullivan has some interesting decisions to make going forward. Puk seems like a safe bet to be in the rotation next weekend, and it would be hard to pull Dunning from the rotation with his 1.50 ERA. But with their issues throwing strikes at times, it’s easy to wonder if O’Sullivan could end up going to a veteran arm down the road that can throw consistent strikes in conference play, especially in conference play when scoring is more limited.