Tuesday morning Kevin O’Sullivan made the decision to start freshman Nick Pogue against USF that night. He just didn’t tell Pogue that he’d be getting the ball until the team was stretching before the game.
“(Sully) said I’d be taking the hill first and I was pretty excited,” Pogue said. “I think it kept my nerves down a little bit, not knowing.”
Pogue was fantastic in his first career start throwing five scoreless innings, fanning four to just two hits allowed. Pogue is the first starting pitcher for the Gators to now allow a run since Nolan Crisp threw three scoreless innings in a start against FAMU on April 2. It’s just the fourth time this season a UF starter hasn’t allowed a run in a game they started.
“We haven’t had a game pitched like that in a while,” O’Sullivan said. “He threw 71% strikes, 15 of 19 first pitch strikes, he tightened up his breaking ball, I think he only went to two 3 ball counts the entire night and I don’t think he went to a 2-0 count the whole night. It was really good.”
Pogue did his part and the Gators’ offense made sure to give him run support. In the third inning Jacob Young legged out an infield singled and scored when Brady McConnell doubled off the wall in left center. The very next inning Cory Acton turned on a fastball for a two run home run that have Florida a 3-0 lead and the Gators added two more runs in the fifth inning for a 5-0 advantage.
Christian Scott took over for Pogue in the sixth inning. The freshman gave up a one out single and then a RBI double. Scott’s next offering was a wild pitch and trainer Jon Michelini came out to the mound and Scott left with a lat injury. Ben Specht replaced Scott and limited the damage to just one more run in the inning.
“Ben came in with first and third and only allowed one run,” O’Sullivan said. “That’s big. He came in and was upset about giving up the run but I reminded him, that’s the damage control that we’ve been trying to talk about. Just limit the damage.”
The Gators got home runs from Wil Dalton and Jud Fabian later in the game to finish off their midweek season with a 7-3 win over USF and a 9-5 record in midweek games.
The Gators have just six games left this season and for the first time since 2013 won’t be hosting a Regional or Super Regional. The Gators are currently 9-15 in conference play with three games against Tennessee and three against Missouri left. Florida needs to get to 13 or 14 wins in SEC play to secure a NCAA Tournament berth. The Gators have never missed the tournament during O’Sullivan’s tenure.
“We’ve gotta get some wins. What that number is I don’t know. Our only concern now is to play well Friday night against a really good pitcher in (Garrett) Stallings. Tennessee is really improved. We’ve gotta get a good start out of Tommy. We certainly hoped not to be in this situation but we still control our own destiny.”