Tommy Mace got the news on Sunday after his start against Winthrop that he would be the Gators’ starting pitcher on Friday the following weekend. It’s a big deal to be your team’s Friday night starter and Mace would be pitching on short rest. Fortunately, at the University of Florida, Mace has a long list of guys he can lean on for advice.
“From being a college pitcher to almost throwing like pro ball (college starters throw once a week while MLB pitchers throw every five days),” Mace said. “I actually texted Brady (Singer) and (Logan) Shore to ask what their routine was, how they would get ready in five days. I just kind of tried to figure out how they did it and see how it would work.”
Mace admirably wasn’t as sharp Friday night as he was in his fist three starts but he improved to 4-0 on the season and 9-0 to start his career. He’ll on full rest next Friday when the Gators open SEC play against Mississippi State.
The Florida offense did its part to help ease Mace into his new role. Wil Dalton, Kendrick Calilao and Nelson Maldonado all singled with two outs in the first inning to give Florida a 1-0 lead. Maldonado’s RBI single was his 200th career hit.
The Gators added another run in the second, answering a Yale run in the top of the inning, and two in the third when Maldonado hit a line drive home run to left field.
The Bulldogs got to Mace again in the fifth inning. Captain Simon Whiteman (4-5) doubled to start the inning, advanced to third by a sacrifice bunt and scored on a groundout. Mace limited the damage and gout out of the inning. He would retire the side in order in the sixth but ran out of gas in the seventh.
Harry Hegman and Tim DeGraw singled with one out and both scored on Griffin Dey’s double. That would mark the end of the night for Mace as the Bulldogs closed the game to 5-4. Hunter Ruth took over for the Gators and retired two to get out of the inning.
A theme for the Gators on Friday was responding. Florida’s offense continually backed up their pitching staff and the seventh was no different. Brady McConnell launched a fastball deep into the night to give Florida a 6-4 lead that would prove pivotal.
“I think that’s a huge thing about our offense, rebound runs,” McConnell said. “I think it’s great our offense is rebounding when they score runs.”
Hunter Ruth threw a perfect eighth inning before handing the ball to closer Nolan Crisp. The freshman was greeted warmly by Whiteman with a single laced into right field.
In a two run game that runner on first base shouldn’t be Crisp’s concern. Instead Crisp attempted a pick off that sailed over Calilao’s head at first, putting Whiteman on second.
“I control the running game with the signs and the picks and that kind of thing,” Sully said of Crisp who threw the pickoff on his own without it being called from the dugout. “These are mistakes that the young players are making but we at some point have got to stop making the same ones over and over.”
Crisp responded with a strikeout, showing composure. He gave up a RBI single to DeGraw but was able to close out the game, earning his seventh save in as many chances to start his career.
Florida and Yale will be back on the field Saturday at 4 pm. Jack Leftwich will throw for the Gators.