Tyler Dyson joked that the Gators were “working on” getting freshman Jud Fabian his learning permit and then again that Fabian would be going to prom soon — the latter is actually true. This weekend Fabian didn’t look like the high school senior he’s supposed to be. He hasn’t looked that way in a while but his two home runs against Yale on Sunday proved to be the difference in a 4-3 win to finish off the sweep.
“I’m just kind of going with it right now,” Kevin O’Sullivan said. “With (Jud) and Nolan being so young right now and not having the experience I’m just kind of enjoying watching them play. Sometimes you play better when you don’t overanalyze things. They’re just playing.”
Fabian finished the weekend 5-8 (.625) with six runs score, four RBI, three home runs two walks and a double. Not to mention his defense, which O’Sullivan has already likened to Mat Den Dekker, one of the best center fielder’s in school history.
Not a bad start to the career for a 18-year old who, as Dyson joked, will be looking for a prom tux soon.
Speaking of Dyson, the junior pitched on Sunday for the first time this season. After struggling with pitch count and going deep into games Dyson was moved from his role as the Friday night starter and pushed back into Sunday. It’s not easy to get demoted but Dyson handled it maturely.
“I wasn’t doing a good enough job,” Dyson said. “Whether it’s Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday I’m going to go out there and try to compete and just throw.”
Dyson did just that on Sunday, earning his second win of the season. He started the first inning off well. He retired Simon Whiteman, who other than Fabian was the hardest out of the weekend, to start the game and then worked around a one-out double to get out of the first. The biggest stat of the inning was 18 — the number of pitches Dyson needed to get out of the frame, much better than the 30 he needed in his previous start. He needed just eight pitches to finish the second inning. Overall it as a good start for the junior.
There were a couple of innings where Dyson allowed two out hits, including a solo home run to Jake Gehri in the fourth, but for the most part Dyson was solid.
“All in all I think it was definitely a step in the right direction,” O’Sullivan said.
The Gators gave Dyson two runs to work with in the very first inning. Brady McConnell extended his hitting streak to 14 with a single in the first. Nelson Maldonado followed that with a walk. Jordan Butler, who was in the lineup today after Wil Dalton was scratched (illness), battled and lined a two RBI double into left center.
Fabian’s first home run of the day came in the second inning and extended the Gator lead to 3-0. His second home run came after Gehri tagged Dyson in the fourth.
“I was just looking for fastball all day,” Fabian said. “I got a few to hit.”
Dyson made it into the sixth inning but Gehri’s second home run, this one a two-run shot that made the score 4-3 chased Dyson. O’Sullivan turned to Hunter Ruth. The redshirt freshman retired the first two batters he faced in only six pitches to end the inning. Ruth retired the side again in the eighth, striking out Gehri looking.
“I did not want to leave the ball up,” Ruth said of the at bat with Gehri. “I’ve got the sinker so I wanted to keep the ball low, hopefully get him to chase something in the dirt. That was huge. It felt real good, especially knowing what he can do.”
Normally freshman Nolan Crisp would take the ninth inning in a one run game but O’Sullivan sent Ruth back out there and he didn’t disappoint. Ruth struck out the side to earn his first career save. The Gainesville native — an Buchholz graduate — missed the 2018 season after Tommy John surgery. It’s been a long road back but he’s finding his role on the team.
“I was dying for it,” Ruth said of getting to play this season. “It’s been a dream for me since I was a kid to play here and succeed. It’s pretty special.”