The buzz surrounding the Florida Gators series with the Vanderbilt Commodores centered largely on Friday’s pitching matchup. Florida head coach Kevin O’Sullivan warned, however, of the Dores’ Saturday starter Kyle Wright.
“Our players commented on it last year on how impressed they were with Wright,” O’Sullivan said Thursday. “He’s another one, he’s 92-95, and the ball is never straight. He’s got a slider. He’s developed his cutter now 88-90 and it’s real. It’s a real pitch. He’s another first-rounder.”
Wright was unconventional, mixing pitches as often as he mixed up his throwing motion, dropping down and throwing sidearm sporadically. Wright followed up Logan Shore’s complete game performance from Friday with one of his own, shutting out Florida (42-9, 17-8) and allowing just three hits in a 5-0 win on Saturday.
Wright’s brilliance on the mound cast a shadow over A.J. Puk, who had one of his best outings of the season. Puk retired the side in order to start the game, striking out two in the process. A high fastball to Julian Infante turned into a car windshield smashing home run, Puk’s lone mistake on the afternoon, but enough to add another loss to his record.
“I think the one positive to pull out of today is A.J. (Puk) threw the ball well too,” O’Sullivan said after the game. “It’s nice to move forward with him coming off his last outing.”
After the home run in the second Puk retired seven batters in a row before issuing a walk. He worked around the one-out walk in the fourth with back-to-back strikeouts. Puk lasted six innings, throwing a season high 110 pitches with 10 strikeouts, two walks and the lone run; a great bounce back performance after a forgettable outing seven days prior, just not enough on Saturday.
Wright gave up a trio of singles, to Jonathan India in the second, Mike Rivera in the fourth and Dalton Guthrie’s bunt single to lead off the ninth inning.
Vanderbilt added a run in the seventh inning on a fielding error by Jonathan India and three more runs in the eighth when Ethan Paul doubled home Infante and Bryan Reynolds. Connor Kaiser drove in Jason Delay one batter later to extend the lead to 5-0.
The Gators were without first baseman Pete Alonso after a 95 MPH fastball broke the fifth metacarpal in his left hand. Alonso will miss the rest of the regular season, with the hope that he will be able to return to the lineup when the Gators reach a regional. Jeremy Alonso will man first base in Alonso’s absence.
Alex Faedo will take the mound on Sunday vs. a starter to be determined with the series on the line at 1 pm. The game will be broadcasted on SEC Network.