Kevin O’Sullivan’s time at Florida has been littered with milestones, so much so that they seem to come and go without much notice. After the Gators finished off a sweep of visiting Long Beach State University with a 3-1 win Sunday it was unceremoniously announced that it was O’Sullivan’s 500th win at Florida. He’s the quickest coach in Florida history to win 500 games.
The effort to get Sunday’s win started on the mound with sophomore Jack Leftwich. Other than a changeup that stayed up in the zone and was deposited into the left field bleachers in the second, Leftwich was great.
“I thought he was good,” O’Sullivan said. “His secondary stuff was really good. He had good command of his fastball and his changeup was outstanding, especially early. He was good.”
Leftwich struck out two in the fist inning and two more in the third. He kept his pitch count down and kept Florida in the game until the offense woke up in the third inning.
Brady McConnell (3-4) started things off with a one-out single. Nelson Maldonado walked and the pair moved up a base each when Wil Dalton grounded out. Kendrick Calilao was hit by a pitch and Jud Fabian walked to force in the tying run. Freshman Roberto Pena reached on an error to give Florida a 2-1 lead.
The Gators added their third run in the fourth inning off of a pair of doubles, first from catcher Santino Miozzi and then McConnell. The sophomore shortstop who missed most of the 2018 season with a wrist injury collected five hits to lead the team on opening weekend.
“It’s exciting for me,” he said. “I’m just glad we’re winning ballgames, that’s what’s important. If it’s me that’s helping, whatever, whoever it is as long as we get wins.”
Leftwich would throw six complete innings before exiting the game. O’Sullivan turned to redshirt freshman Hunter Ruth who was throwing for the first time in nearly 22 months after undergoing Tommy John surgery during the spring of his senior season in high school. it had been a long road to get to this point but Ruth was ready with a perfect first frame in his debut.
“I thought his stuff darting. He threw three pitches, fastball was up to 94-95 it looked like,” O’Sullivan said. “22 pitches in two innings, he was really efficient.”
Freshman Nolan Crisp came on in the ninth inning to try and close the game. He gave up a leadoff double that was nearly a home run before sitting down the next three batters in order to earn his second save of the weekend.
Senior captain Blake Reese left the game in the sixth inning with a dislocated shoulder. Reese dislocated his shoulder in the last week of the season in 2018 and missed some time. Reese will likely miss Tuesday’s game at South Florida and Wednesday’s home game against UNF.
Sophomore Hunter McMullen will start for the Gators on Tuesday.