Sophomore outfielder Ty Evans began the season as a starter for the Florida Gators, but after scuffling at the plate midway through the schedule, the Auburndale, Florida native made just two starts in the Gators’ last 25 games, totaling eight at bats during that span.
This didn’t stop Evans from delivering on the biggest stage of his life. Down 4-1 in the opening round of the Men’s College World Series, Head Coach Kevin O’Sullivan called on Ty Evans to pinch hit for Richie Schiekofer in the 7th inning.
Evans would smack an outside pitch down the right field line for a stand up double, moving Dale Thomas to third base. Thomas would later come around to score on a ground out, thanks to Ty Evans.
Trailing 5-3 with three outs to play, Evans continued to produce, launching a solo home run to left field to start the bottom of the ninth. His fifth long ball of the season left the bat at 113 MPH and kick started a three-run 9th inning that would send the Gators into the winner’s bracket.
“This guy has hung in there, he’s battled,” Kevin O’Sullivan said postgame. “Probably a little disappointed with the amount of playing time he’s had this year, but had a big double and big home run tonight.”
Evans’ teammates praised the second-year outfielder following their 6-5 victory over Virginia.
“Ty, he’s put in the work all year,” junior outfielder Wyatt Langford said. “Like Sully said, he’s probably disappointed with the amount of playing time, but he’s stuck it out. And he knew his time was going to come. That’s just how this game goes. We have so many guys on the bench that can perform. And he was the guy that got his number called tonight.”
“Being a pitcher, a guy looking outside/in, I noticed Ty — he’s put his head down and grinding,” junior RHP Brandon Sproat said. “Even when he’s not playing, he’s been being one of the best teammates in the dugout, and — being one of the best teammates in the dugout when his number is called. That swing there gave us so much momentum.”
“Ty is a fantastic person,” senior catcher BT Riopelle said. “He loves every guy in that dugout, 1 through 9, guys off the bench. He loves the coaches and the program.”
This isn’t the first time in Evans’ young career that he’s provided a spark off the bench for the Gators. During his freshman season, Evans recorded a pinch-hit home run against South Florida on May 3rd of 2022. Evans would go on to be an everyday starter, going 20-77 (.260) at the plate including four home runs and 13 RBIs across 21 starts to finish the season.
“He showed it last year as a freshman,” Riopelle said. “He didn’t play until the Mississippi State series and came up with a backside homer and a couple hits the next day. He’s proven he can do it.”
“To piggyback on them, he’s not happy that he didn’t play all year, but it doesn’t mean he’s not excited for his teammates to do well,” Riopelle said. “And whenever he gets in we’re very excited for him, too. And like Wyatt said, he’s the guy that got his number called today, and we’re super excited for him.”
In postseason baseball, you need players to step up that you haven’t relied on all season.
“You have to have special performances from people you don’t expect. It happens all the time in any sport,” O’Sullivan said.
Third basemen Dale Thomas and Colby Halter have struggled at the plate at times this season, but both contributed to Florida’s victory on Friday night.
“Dale had a good at-bat and played good defense,” O’Sullivan said. “Colby, I don’t want to forget about him. He drove in the first run of the game, had a good two-strike approach. Line drive over shortstop’s head.”
“And like I said, Ty, if you’re going to have a chance to do something special at the end of the year, things like this happen,” O’Sullivan added.
I don’t think anyone had a Ty Evans double and home run on their bingo card, except for maybe Head Coach Kevin O’Sullivan.
“I still think Ty has a chance to do something in this tournament that will help us,” O’Sullivan said during the pre-series press conference.
Don’t be surprised if you see Ty Evans’ name in the starting lineup on Sunday night.