After he had just notched his first career win in his first career appearance, freshman Parker Danciu felt the need to introduce himself formally as he walked up to the media contingent awaiting him on Saturday.
“Hi, I’m Parker Danciu,” he said with a smile.
Less than an hour earlier, Danciu had wrapped up his official introduction to the Gator Nation, as Danciu tossed 3.2 scoreless innings in helping the Gators put away the Duke Blue Devils for UF’s first victory of the season.
“We got off to a good start today,” coach Kevin O’Sullivan said after his team’s victory.
“Overall, it was our first win and we certainly have a lot of things to work on, but I was awfully pleased with our pitching. We had two freshmen go out there for 7.2 innings and gave up two runs on four hits, so it’s good to get those guys out there.”
The other freshman O’Sullivan was speaking of was 6’6 right-hander Tucker Simpson, who pitched well in his first career start. The Alabama-native pitched three hitless innings before running into a bit of trouble in the fourth.
After giving up a Mike Rosenfeld single to start the inning, Simpson promptly gave up a two-run home run to Chris Marconcini. With Duke’s deficit cut to one run, O’Sullivan turned to Danciu, who gave up only two hits against 14 batters.
After a stagnant opener, the Gators’ collective bats were a little livelier on Saturday, sparked by Casey Turgeon’s three-run homer in the first inning. Turgeon’s screaming shot kicked off the fair side of the right field foul pole, bringing a dose of confidence to UF’s batting order as well as their freshman pitchers.
“Casey [Turgeon] put a really good swing on the ball and the ball stayed straight,” O’Sullivan said. “From our angle, it looked like it wanted to take a right turn, but it stayed straight luckily for us. He’s hitting third for a reason and those first two guys got on base and did a nice job. “
“The pitcher was trying to throw strikes, and I went up with one thing on my mind: look for that pitch down the middle,” Turgeon said. “He gave it to me, and I put a good swing on it. Coming out here and scoring a run in the first inning pumped our team up and got us going for the rest of the game.”
The Gators would score again in the sixth inning when a Cody Dent sacrifice fly to deep left allowed Taylor Gushue to score from third.
With the Gators up by two runs late in the eighth inning, O’Sullivan called in sophomore closer Johnny Magliozzi who quickly dispatched of Reed Anthes, before retiring the side in the ninth. It was Magliozzi’s first career save.
“I thought Johnny Magliozzi threw about as well as he has thrown since he’s been here,” O’Sullivan said.
With the series all squared, the Gators will throw out Justin Shafer on Sunday in hopes of taking the series. The gators received an added bonus with Danciu’s performance as they go into the series finale with an abundance of fresh arms.
“Shafer’s starting (on Sunday) — I feel really good about the way he’s been throwing the ball,” O’Sullivan said.
“We also got those three freshman — Vinson, Carmichael and Handhold who haven’t thrown yet, so I feel good about what we have left on the mound.”
The Gators will host Duke for the series finale at 12 p.m. Sunday at McKethan Stadium.