(SPECIAL TO FIGHTIN’ GATORS)
Junior Frank Rubio (3-0) tossed 3.2 innings of scoreless ball to earn the decision, as UF’s bullpen threw six shutout frames and its five pitchers combined for 10 strikeouts and zero walks. Sophomore Mike Rivera broke a 1-1 tie in the sixth with an RBI grounder that scored junior Buddy Reed with the go-ahead run and freshman Jonathan India provided insurance with a run-scoring single in the seventh. Junior Dane Dunning struck out all four batters he faced and junior Shaun Anderson nailed down the win with a clean ninth for his eighth save.
Junior Austin Hayes (2-for-4) had given the Dolphins the lead against freshman Jackson Kowar in the first inning with a solo homer into the left-field bleachers, his team-leading 13th of the season.
The Dolphins threatened again in the second, placing runners on the corners with one down. However, Kowar induced an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play by freshman Dakota Julylia.
Florida put its first two runners aboard in the home part of the frame, as sophomore JJ Schwarz drew a four-pitch walk from junior Casey Kulina and junior Peter Alonso singled into left field. Senior shortstop JJ Gould made a great defensive play on a ball hit by Rivera and started a 6-4-3 double play before freshman Nelson Maldonado earned a free pass for two runners aboard. Kulina had freshman Danny Reyes fly out to end the frame.
The Gators tied the game in the fourth, when Reed came home on a wild pitch. Reed had led off with a single into right field and Schwarz walked for the second time in the contest. A fielding error on a failed pickoff attempt resulted in Reed taking third and Schwarz moving to second base before Kulina retired the next two batters by strikeout. With Maldonado batting, Kulina had an errant pitch that brought across Reed with the tying run.
Rubio took over for Kowar (3.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 2 K) and retired the first eight hitters he faced until yielding a two-out infield single to freshman Connor Stephens in the sixth. Although Stephens stole second, Rubio caught freshman Angel Camacho looking on strikes to complete the frame.
Rivera gave Florida a 2-1 lead with an RBI grounder in the home part of the inning. Reed reached on an error by Gould and Schwarz had a ground-rule double that bounced over the wall in right field to put the Gators in business with none out. After freshman Mike Schappell had Alonso fly out to center field, Rivera’s grounder to third base scored Reed.
Rubio retired the first two Dolphins in the seventh before giving up a single into right field for Julylia. Junior Kirby Snead allowed a base-hit into center field by senior Parker Perez (2-for-4) and Dunning was summoned from the bullpen. The right-hander fanned Hays to keep the Gators in front.
India added an insurance run with an RBI single in the seventh for a 3-1 margin. Sophomore Nick Horvath had drawn a one-out walk from freshman Ryan Granda and sophomore Dalton Guthrie (2-for-4) welcomed freshman Chris Gau into the game with a single into left field.
Head Coach Kevin O’Sullivan
"I thought that the game got started off a little shaky there in the first but we recovered. Jackson (Kowar) made some pitches that we needed. Frank Rubio was outstanding tonight, he held that game right together for us. Kirby (Snead) came in and threw quality strikes, and I have to give credit to their hitters, they came in and got a good slider. Then, Dane (Dunning) struck out all four guys he faced on 16 pitches, and Shaun (Anderson) was great at the end. That's the kind of effort we need on the mound because we weren't very good at the plate today for whatever reason. But, we did just enough, played good defense again, and it just goes to show you that if you pitch well and play good defense you've got a chance."
Junior center fielder Buddy Reed
On Frank Rubio's pitching performance with 3.2 shutout innings:
"It's great. He works hard in the bullpen, working on his craft and his stuff. It's always great to have someone out of the bullpen come in and do their job. I think he's up to 91 from his arm slot. I'm pretty sure as a hitter facing him, it would be pretty tough to see. I'm glad he came in and got the win for us."
Junior right-hander Frank Rubio:
On how he felt about pitching in a tight game:
"It felt great, especially because we have Georgia on Thursday and we definitely wanted to keep our pen limited."
On how his confidence has grown throughout the season:
"Tremendously. I'm just trying to keep the ball down, not worry about the stats and get ground balls. I know my ERA is a little high, but I'm just letting the stats take care of themselves as long as I keep the ball down."
*Kevin O’Sullivan improved to 7-3 (.700) against Jacksonville, 6-2 (.750) in Gainesville.
*Florida boosted its record to 15-1 (.938) versus Sunshine State foes this year.
*UF raised its mark to 23-2 (.920) at McKethan Stadium this season.
*The Gators notched their 14th come-from-behind win of the campaign.
*Dane Dunning struck out all four batters he faced.
*Shaun Anderson collected his eighth save of the season with a perfect ninth inning in which he had two strikeouts.
*The Gators played error-free for the 21st time this year (18-3).
The Gators face Georgia (20-18/6-9 SEC) in a weekend series that begins on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. Jeff Cardozo and Mick Hubert have the call on the Gator IMG Sports Network and the game will be shown on ESPNU with Tom Hart and Kyle Peterson and streamed through the Watch ESPN app.