With the way Garrett Milchin has been swinging the bat at practice lately, Kevin O’Sullivan knew he needed to find room for him in UF’s lineup.
Milchin, a 6-foot-5 right-hander from Windermere, Florida, has made a name for himself as one of the most consistent relievers in the Gators’ bullpen this season, sporting a 1.14 ERA over 23.2 innings pitched.
However, after hitting the ball exceptionally well in recent team scrimmages, the freshman earned a rare opportunity on Tuesday night to showcase his abilities both at the plate and on the mound.
Facing Florida A&M in the first of a six-game homestand, Milchin did it all for UF, starting at designated hitter and knocking in a game-high four RBIs before pitching in the ninth inning and recording the contest’s final three outs.
Milchin took the biggest swing of his collegiate career in the fourth inning against FAMU starter Josh Wilson, blasting a go-ahead three-run homer over the right field wall of McKethan Stadium.
Several innings later, the freshman came up huge again, skying a sacrifice fly to left field off reliever Aubrey McCarty that allowed third baseman Christian Hicks to score.
The two plate appearances, which generated half of Florida’s runs, ultimately propelled the Gators to an 8-7 victory over the Rattlers and earned Milchin praise from his head coach following the contest.
“He’s been swinging the bat well in (batting practice) and inter-squad games,” O’Sullivan said in a release. “That wasn’t just a whim. I wanted to see him get a few at bats.”
UF (30-13, 13-8 SEC) fell behind early on against the Rattlers (23-20) after starting pitcher Andrew Baker struggled in the contest’s opening frame. The freshman from Haines City, Florida, lasted one inning and surrendered three earned runs off RBIs from first baseman Brian Davis, third baseman Kodi Russ and right fielder Garrett Wilkinson.
However, the Gators responded with six consecutive runs of their own, creating offense from Milchin’s three-run shot, a solo home run from Hicks and a sacrifice fly from center fielder Austin Langworthy.
After Milchin’s fourth RBI gave UF an 8-5 lead, the fate of the game ultimately came down to the bullpen. Reliever Frank Rubio was nearly flawless during his 3.2 innings pitched, allowing one base hit in the sixth, seventh and eighth inning combined.
Milchin then came on in the ninth and, despite allowing multiple base runners, retired the final three batters he faced to clinch the victory and improve Florida’s winning streak to a season-high five consecutive games.
“Credit Florida A&M, they played really good and battled right there til the end,” O’Sullivan said. “They’re very competitive and well-coached.”
Contact Dylan Dixon at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @dylanrdixon.
UF infielder/pitcher Garrett Milchin runs towards first base after getting a hit during Florida's 3-2 loss against Tennessee on April 8, 2017, at McKethan Stadium.