Junior Frank Rubio (3-0) tossed a season-high 3.2 innings as the No. 2 Florida Gators (34-5) beat the Jacksonville Dolphins (22-14) 3-1 on Tuesday night to move to 12-0 in midweek affairs on the season.
Freshman Jackson Kowar’s night started rough, giving up a dinger to Jacksonville right fielder Austin Hays in the first inning. Kowar worked in and out of trouble in the second and third innings, stranding three runners before handing the game over to Rubio in the fourth with the Gators trailing 1-0.
Rubio’s career has blossomed in his third season in Gainesville, due in large part to a new arm slot, something head coach Kevin O’Sullivan suggested during the College World Series in 2015.
“This isn’t something he’s been doing his whole life,” O’Sullivan said of Rubio’s arm slot. “To be able to do this, locate the ball as well as he has and pitch as well against the competition that he has says the world about him.”
Florida tied the game in the bottom of the fourth inning when Buddy Reed came home on a wild pitch. Meanwhile, Rubio stymied the Dolphins’ bats, retiring the first eight batters he faced Tuesday and ultimately 10-of-12 before giving way to Kirby Snead with two outs in the seventh.
Florida tacked on a run in the sixth with Reed scoring on a Mike Rivera groundout to third and another in the seventh when Jonathan India drove home Nick Horvath with a single to left field.
It wasn’t in the plans, but in a tight game O’Sullivan turned to juniors Dane Dunning — who struck out all four batters he faced on just 16 pitches — and closer Shaun Anderson to finish off the game. The win moved Florida to 12-0 in midweek games this season and 23-1 against non-conference opponents in 2016.
“We’ve got good pitching and we’ve got a lot of depth,” O’Sullivan said when asked about Florida’s midweek success this season. “Your depth usually shows up on Sundays or in midweek games. Our younger guys have done a nice job; guys like Frank Rubio have done a nice job.”
The Gators will host Georgia, who lost to Clemson 12-0 on Tuesday, for a three game series at McKethan Stadium beginning Thursday night.