Florida pitching is Boss

Tommy Boss has spent the better part of the season pitching in the shadows of Justin Hoyman, Connor Falkenbach, and Darren O'Day. The junior from Dunnellon tossed a complete game three-hit shutout against UCLA Sunday that punched the Gators ticket to Coral Gables for the Super Regional. Did any of us believe the Florida pitching staff had the stuff to get through LSU Georgia, or the Regional?

Boss couldn't have picked a better time to emerge as a leader and open a few eyes with the Super Regional on the horizon. "The Boss" looks as though he is ready to solidify his Florida baseball role in both the short term and distant future. And with Hoyman drafted in the second round today, the Gators certainly appear to need it.

The former two-time All-State pitcher, who struck out 457 batters during a stellar career at Dunnellon High School, has struggled to achieve that same measure of success. However, in last two starts, Boss has taken command and challenged hitters with strong inside pitching. He pitched a complete game against the champions of the Charlottesville Regional, Vanderbilt, allowing three earned runs on just seven hits. His counterpart in that game, lefty Ryan Mullins, an All-Tournament selection, gave up seven hits in eight innings.

Most importantly, The Boss gave up two runs in the first, settled down, and took control from that point on. Since that unimpressive first inning, Boss has allowed only one earned run in 17 innings. He has given up just eight hits, while striking out ten. Opponents are hitting a miserable .142 against him. UCLA had ripped Oklahoma for 15 hits and actually out hit the Gators in their first meeting 10-8. The Boss has been impressive.

Connor Falkenbach also appears to be peaking at the right time. The junior has given up just three earned runs in the past 18 innings, while facing the likes of Athens Regional winner, Georgia and UCLA. He has allowed 13 hits in those games, and opponents are batting just .196 against him. Falkenbach was named to the SEC All-Tournament Team for his performance versus the Bulldogs.

Florida ace Justin Hoyman (11-1) has been the epitome of consistency throughout the past two years at Florida. The All-American right-hander was selected in the second round of the Major League Draft today by the Cleveland Indians. It was a well deserved honor. Accolades are simple when you have a pitcher that has challenged opponents as often and successfully as Hoyman, and he has received plenty of them. However, Hoyman hasn't been quite as sharp as Boss and Falkenbach of late. They have dramatically raised the level of their game.

Hoyman's biggest challenge lies ahead of him. Yet another opportunity to lead this team to the unexpected. He will be asked to come out on Friday night, ignore any thoughts of pro offers, contracts, and money. His task is to tame the Hurricanes once again, just as he did in February 13th, when he pitched a one hit shutout in seven innings of work. Hoyman's teammates will count on him to help deliver Florida that key first victory, and allow the Gators two games to secure a trip to Omaha.

Yes, Tommy Boss, Connor Falkenbach, and Justin Hoyman are pitching very well and have the Gators in a position that few of us thought capable, thought probable, or even held out hope for; just two weeks removed from a horrendous weekend in the land of the one tooth wonders in Knoxville, Tennessee. All of them want the ball, and as regards to pitching in college baseball, you can't have too many bosses.

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