The Florida offense didn’t have a big weekend, but Tobias bailed them out by breaking a tie game with a two-run homer in the sixth inning that pushed the Gators to a 3-1 win over Auburn to clinch the series.
This game gave Florida 40 wins on the season, the second most ever under Kevin O’Sullivan. It’s also the sixth time in eight seasons under O’Sullivan that the Gators have won 40 games. But Saturday was about Tobias delivering the big hit.
“You couldn’t draw it up much better than that,” O’Sullivan said, running through the contributions from the Florida seniors. “Pretty special.”
Tobias was one of three seniors honored on the field before Saturday’s regular season finale. He was joined by a large group of family members, some that were able to make a rare trip to Gainesville to see the senior play in his final regular season series.
He didn’t disappoint them. After Richie Martin reached on an error to start the sixth inning, Auburn brought left-hander Izaac Yarbrough into the game, forcing Tobias to hit from the right side of the plate where he hasn’t been as effective this year. He hit the second pitch he saw out of the entire stadium to left-center field, giving the Gators a 3-1 lead.
“It felt great,” Tobias said. “I was just trying to do something to help the team win. It was just icing on the cake to do that.”
The Florida pitching staff handled things the rest of the way. Alex Faedo started the game on the mound and went 4.1 innings, giving up one run but working his way in and out of trouble.
In the fifth inning, Faedo gave up back-to-back singles to start the inning. After a strikeout on a foul bunt, he walked the next batter to load the bases with one out. O’Sullivan gave the ball to right-hander Taylor Lewis, and it took two pitches for him to get a double play off the bat of Anfernee Grier to keep Auburn off the scoreboard.
Lewis threw 4.1 scoreless innings, allowing just two hits and one walk, which came with two outs in the ninth inning. O’Sullivan went to the mound and gave senior Bobby Poyner the chance to come in and get the final out, which he did on a fly out.
“(Lewis) did great,” O’Sullivan said. “I know he’s probably a little upset he came out in the end, but he pitched great. I looked at his numbers on Sunday, and they’re incredible. Once we changed his role from exclusively as a closer to use him on Saturday and Sunday when we’ve needed him, he’s a huge reason why we’ve been so successful on Sundays.”
The Gators now await their matchup at the SEC Tournament. Florida has clinched a top-four seed, earning a bye in the first round and will play its first game in the tournament on Wednesday at a time to be decided when seeding is finalized.