The game started much like Friday’s contest with both teams going scoreless in the first inning and then William and Mary netting a run in the top of the second inning when Florida sophomore starter Brady Singer got in a little trouble with giving up a single and hitting a batter putting Ryder Miconi and Charles Ameer on first and second respectively. Singer would finish the inning giving up just one run when Miconi crossed the plate on a fielder’s choice.
The big difference Saturday is that the single run in the second would be the only one to cross home plate for The Tribe in the entire game.
O’Sullivan was happy to see his team settle down.
“We spent about 20 minutes after pregame meal (talking) about slowing the game down, controlling your heart rate, taking a deep breath. The bottom line is that there’s such a long time between the end of the season last year and the first game. There’s so much anticipation. They care so much. They want to be successful and do well. Unfortunately when you care too much you put too much pressure on yourself and you can’t perform the way you want to. I thought that they responded very well tonight.”
Florida would answer quickly in the bottom of the second when senior Ryan Larson hit a two-run single plating sophomore Nelson Maldonado and junior J.J. Schwarz.
The Gators would plate three more runs in the third when the top of the order left off the inning and junior Dalton Guthrie led off with a single to left field. Sophomore Deacon Liput singled to right field advancing Guthrie to third. Sophomore Jonathan India would single to right field scoring Guthrie and advancing Liput to second. Schwarz would sacrifice a bomb to right field and score Liput while advancing India to third. Junior Mike Rivera then ground out to third, but India scored on the play.
The five runs were enough for Singer to motor through five innings and collect the win. Singer finished his night giving up three hits and three walks while striking out six in the outing. He threw 82 pitches in the contest, a number he will be asked to hit a lot this season.
“I thought that Brady was good, but you’re going to see a really, really good Brady Singer moving forward,” O’Sullivan said. “Like Alex last night, he’ll be much better moving forward. It’s always hard that first start, but was dominant in the first inning.”
Freshman Austin Langworthy hit the mound for the first time in his gator career in the sixth inning and did well. Langworthy would also take the DH spot in the inning, but threw two solid innings of one hit ball to get to finish the top of the seventh.
In the bottom of the seventh, the Gators plated another run when freshman Keenan Bell entered the game for the first time this season and scored Schwarz from second on a left field single.
With the 6-1 margin, Langworthy was able to get two quick outs in the 8th inning before giving up a couple of singles that had runners on the corners for The Tribe. O’Sullivan then called on senior Frank Rubio who came in and forced a grounder to end the inning.
Florida would add two more runs in the eighth inning with their first two extra-base hits of the year. The Gators went 15 innings in two games without hitting anything but singles but with two outs Liput doubled to left center and then Jonathan India stepped up and hit a shot that hit over the left-center wall and bounced back in for the first Gator home run of the season and two more RBI on the night.
It was then time for freshman pitcher Andrew Baker to enter the game and close it out. Baker faced the minimum three batters, struck out two of them and made a terrific play in the field to get the other out and send the Gators to a 2-0 record on the year and assure them of clinching the series with William and Mary.
O’Sullivan was happy with his group of relievers that saw playing time for the first time on Saturday.
“Langworthy came in, he’s just a baseball player, he just throws strikes,” the Gators’ skipper said. “It’s probably a nice combination bringing him in behind Singer. Rubio got the ground ball (to end the eighth) and then Baker, you saw him. I’ve been high on him since day one. It’s good to get these guys out there.
While the Gators still left nine base runners on base over the course of eight innings, they were able to plate eight and that was a much different scenario than the five runs and 10 left on base from Friday night.
O’Sullivan liked the offensive output.
“Keenan Bell got his first hit, hit a ball firm the other way,” he said of the freshman and his first at-bat as a Gator. Offensively I thought we were really good. Deacon (2-5, 2 runs scored) had a good night at the plate. JJ’s (3-3, 1 RBI) been seeing the ball really well. India (3-5, 3 RBI, HR) had a really nice night.
The Gators had just one error on the night and that was from Schwarz at first base on a hard shopper going away from him. O’Sullivan, known for being a defensive coach at heart, liked what he saw with his kids constantly flashing the leather.
“The only thing I mentioned to them that I was most pleased with, other than the approach tonight mentally… was defensively,” he said. “We’ve been playing really good defensively. India made a great play with his backhand, Ryan made a nice play toward the line in left field, and Liput made two really, really nice plays. Those guys in the middle, him and Dalton, they’re pretty darn good.
Liput has had three Sports Center type plays in the two games saving runs and on Friday keeping a run from scoring in a game the gators won by one. But the whole group has done well, which is probably to be expected.
“Defensively, we’ve made one error over the first 18 innings of the year, that’s really good to see,” O’Sullivan said. “I knew we would have a really good defensive club. It’s one thing to think we’re going to have one, and another to actually see it.”
SERIES FINALE ON SUNDAY…
The Gators and Tribe will wrap up the series on Sunday at 1 p.m. at McKethan Stadium. Sophomore Jackson Kowar will make his first start of the season for Florida against William and Mary senior Daniel Powers.