The No. 2 Florida Gators finished a weekend series sweep of Stony Brook (2-7) with a 6-2 win on Sunday afternoon.
Sophomore Dane Dunning (3-0, 1.12) earned the start and got into a tough spot early on. Dunning found himself with runners on first and second with just one out before a line drive double play ended the inning.
Dalton Guthrie opened things up for Florida with a leadoff double, followed by a Buddy Reed walk. Richie Martin struck out but Guthrie and Reed pulled off a double steal to give Harrison Bader a chance with two runners in scoring position. Bader struck out swinging, JJ Schwarz walked and Mike Rivera watched strike three as Florida stranded three in the first frame.
“It was frustrating. The first inning was extremely frustrating,” head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “We talked about it before the game started, about the left-hander having a back door breaking ball that was pretty tough and we gave up on it a bunch.
After his first inning hiccup, Dunning settled in. The sophomore retired the side in order in the second inning and would go on to retire 10-consecutive batters before surrendering another hit.
Josh Tobias led the second inning off with a triple, it was Tobias’ seventh-consecutive hit dating back to Tuesday against FAU. Two batters later John Sternagel launched a ball high over the left field wall for a two-run shot, his first homerun of the season.
“[It felt] Awesome, giving us the lead on Sunday, especially we because we knew he was a good pitcher,” said Sternagel. “To give us a quick lead, maybe calm our nerves a touch and to be able to get us a little momentum was awesome.”
With Dunning throwing zeroes at Stony Brook, Tobias extended the Florida lead to three with a two-out, solo shot to right field. The home run made it eight in a row for Tobias, tying a school record for consecutive hits.
“It’s an honor,” Tobias said of inking his name in the Florida baseball record books. “It’s my last year so it’s nice to leave your name on the record books in your last year. I like it.”
The Gators went into cruise control on offense as the game motored by. The Orange and Blue added runs in the fifth and the seventh innings to give a comfortable cushion. However, a speed bump was hit after Dunning (6.2 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 K) was removed from the game after reaching his pitch count limit.
After getting out of the seventh inning, Snead allowed a lead off double and was removed in favor of Mike Vinson, who was pulled after allowing a RBI double and a walk. Tyler Deel got Florida out of the inning before giving way to Taylor Lewis, who earned his third save of the season despite allowing three hits and a run over 1.2 innings of work.
The Gators travel to Orlando on Tuesday to take on UCF. The Knights just won their weekend series over No. 18 Ole Miss and come into the game 10-1.
HITTER OF THE WEEK
Josh Tobias: 8-14
Josh Tobias has just one hit on the season coming in to the week. He started the game on Tuesday against FAU 0-4 before ending the game with a single. The slow start led to him being benched on Friday. Tobias did not let that deter him, posting a career best 5-for-5 on Saturday and a 2-4 encore with a triple and home run on Sunday.
Kevin O’Sullivan on Tobias:
That was a weekend that Josh probably won’t ever forget. He swung the bat really well. the most important thing, I think is, when you keep your head up and you truly stay involved in the game you’re more prepared to perform when your name is called. That’s exactly what Josh did. No one is happier for him than the players in that locker room. We’re super excited for him and the weekend that he had but I can truly say that every player in that locker room is excited to see it.”
PITCHERS OF THE WEEK
The weekend starters
Combined numbers for weekend starters: 19.2, 1.37 ERA, 7 hits, 3 runs, 6 walks, 14 strikeouts
Friday: Logan Shore – 6.1, 1 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 3 K
Saturday: A.J. Puk – 6.2, 3 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 7 K,
Sunday: Dane Dunning – 6.2 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K, 88 pitches (59 strikes)
The three starting pitchers were close to perfect this weekend and if not for one poor pitch from Puk, would have likely shut out Stony Brook all weekend. The starts that Florida got this weekend propelled them to this sweep.
Kevin O’Sullivan on the weekend starters:
They pitched good. I’m gonna say this again, they will be sharper as the season goes on. I know that’s odd to say when you get three hits over 6.2 from Dane, but I’ve seen these guys perform at a very, very high level against their own hitters. I think they’re still relatively young, they haven’t logged a lot of innings. I’ve said before the season started, they are extremely, extremely talented.”