Gator split doubleheader, avoid sweep

You never want to get swept by a team. You especially don’t want that to happen on your home field but that was reality for the Florida Gators on Saturday night.

Florida sent Tyler Dyson to the mound in game three. A week ago the junior was moved from Friday night to Sunday but Dyson has kept his head high and it showed.

Dyson retired the side in the first inning on 12 pitches. He worked around a leadoff single in the second inning to retire the next three he faced. Mississippi State would score a run in the third. Gunner Hatcher doubled and Jordan Westburg followed suit to break open the scoring. That’s all Dyson would give up.

“That’s the best he’s pitched all year,” Kevin O’Sullivan said. “We needed him to.”

After the run Dyson retired nine of the next 10 batters he faced and the Gators gave him a lead to work with.

Nelson Maldonado le off the fourth inning with a double to left center. Following a strike out Wil Dalton singled to put runners on the corners. Maldonado would score on a balk with Dalton advancing to second. Freshman Kris Armstrong doubled down the right field line to give Florida its first lead of the day. Brady Smith singled to pate Armstrong, extending the lead to 3-1. Maldonado extended the lead with a solo home run in the fifth inning.

Dyson would give up one more run in the seventh inning before being replaced by Christian Scott. The freshman battled with Westburg but won getting the third baseman to swing and miss on a breaking ball. Scott would finish the game and earn his first career save as the Gators won 4-2.

Game 1 recap

Kevin O’Sullivan warned that his team would face a tough test in the first game on Saturday. Mississippi State sent freshman JT Ginn to the mound to start the second game looking for the series. Ginn was the 30th overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft but chose to go to Mississippi State rather than sign with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Ginn lived up to the hype.

“He can manipulate his fastball like I haven’t seen from a young kid in a long time,” O’Sullivan said.

“He has a live arm,” Maldonado said of Ginn, “he knows how to command his pitches, he places them really well, he’s very mature for being a freshman.”

Ginn would allow three runs on 10 hits but he struck out 11 and didn’t walk a batter.

It helped to go out on the mound with a lead, which Jake Mangum’s leadoff home run over the right field scoreboard did. Sophomore starter Jack Leftwich settled down after that but allowed three home runs on the day before exiting the game with a blister on his throwing hand.

The Gators battled back from a 4-0 deficit in the sixth inning. Austin Langworthy singled to bring Wil Dalton around to score but Mississippi State’s deep lineup added two runs to make it 6-1. The Gators would keep scoring but Florida’s bullpen couldn’t stop the bleeding. The Bulldogs would take the series with a 10-5 win.

“This team is learning. Opening weekend we didn’t look quite as sharp as I thought we would, then we go on the road to USF and we don’t play well. Then we don’t play well the first half of Florida State in front of five or six thousand fans,” O’Sullivan said. “Then this is the first SEC series, we just didn’t deal with it very well. But, the young players are learning. The second game of the day we were much better.”

Previous articleSmith enjoys Florida Gators spring practice
Next articleLindaman’s grand slam pushes Florida Gators softball past LSU
Nick de la Torre
A South Florida native, Nick developed a passion for all things sports at a very young age. His love for baseball was solidified when he saw Al Leiter’s no-hitter for the Marlins live in May of 1996. He was able to play baseball in college but quickly realized there isn’t much of a market for short, slow outfielders that hit around the Mendoza line. Wanting to continue with sports in some capacity he studied journalism at the University of Central Florida. Nick got his first start in the business as an intern for a website covering all things related to the NFL draft before spending two seasons covering the Florida football team at Bleacher Report. That job led him to GatorCountry. When he isn’t covering Gator sports, Nick enjoys hitting way too many shots on the golf course, attempting to keep up with his favorite t.v. shows and watching the Heat, Dolphins and Marlins. Follow him on twitter @NickdelatorreGC