That is where an early 2016 story like Shaun Anderson comes into play. The 6-foot-5, 230 pound right handed junior had a modest 4.09 ERA a year ago in 16 outings and accounted for just 22 innings. Still, Anderson is a big strong righty that throws hard and has some nice stuff on the mound.
He’s a guy that Sullivan plans on utilizing a lot this year and put him into a finishing situation in the closing game of the Miami series. With the Gators sporting a no hit shutout on the Hurricanes heading to the ninth inning. O’Sullivan inserted Anderson to finish off a 7-0 lead in what would have been the first no hitter for a Miami offense since 1964.
That didn’t happen. Anderson gave up three hits, three runs, and two earned runs before being pulled with one out. The Gators ended up winning the game 7-3 and clinching the series, but it was tough on the young man’s psyche.
It didn’t do anything to deter O’Sullivan and his belief in Anderson and he made sure his big righty was ready to fire bullets Wednesday.
“As a coach, when a guy struggles and you believe in him, It’s our job to get him right back out there… put him right back on the saddle and lets go,” O’Sullivan said after Anderson finished off the last two innings of the Wednesday night shutout win over UCF. “I don’t want him to think about it. It wasn’t going to be a one inning thing. I wanted him out there for two innings and pitch like he’s capable, and he did.
“It’s amazing how this game changes. You go from one day feeling horrible about yourself on Sunday and three days later you feel great about yourself. I think that is what is frustrating about this game, it’s a humbling game.”
Anderson came out Wednesday really throwing well. He was keeping the ball low and on target. Only what some would call a lucky hit that the first batter swatted almost off the ground was there a blemish in his outing.
“I am really pleased with how he handled it,” O’Sullivan said. “Especially, giving up a leadoff hit in the 8th on a really good pitch. The pitch was down. He just said, ‘okay, I’m going to keep making the pitches’, and he did, so that was good.”
O‘Sullivan and the Gators (9-1) now have a weekend home series against Dartmouth (0-3) on tap and the head man knows he needs to get some more of his players that haven’t seen a lot of work some time in the field or on the mound. He also wants to get some work done with the bats that haven’t exactly lit the world on fire just yet.
“We have some guys that need to throw,” O’Sullivan said. “We need to get Scott Moss back out there. We have some freshmen that need to throw a little bit. We need to talk about getting on top of the ball and hit hard line drives.”
He understands the situation with the hitting.
“Early in the year, guys try to do too much,” O’Sullivan said. “They try to get it all back in one swing. Some of the swings get a little big and it takes a while to get into a groove. This is our tenth game and there are no preseason games to work through this. Guys press a little bit or try a little too hard. It takes a while to get into a groove. We take a little while and work on those things.
“I am hoping our pitching continues to improve and get better as we go along, so that should take some pressure off of our offense. I believe in our offense, I just think it will take a little time. It’s still early.”