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Friday, August 12, 2022

UF shuts out Marshall to clinch opening-weekend series

<p>Jack Leftwich</p>

Jack Leftwich

Florida’s batters had a difficult time against Marshall right-hander Brady Choban in the early stages of Saturday’s game.

The Gators failed to register a hit in the first three innings, but designated hitter Kendrick Calilao changed that in the bottom of the fourth.

His two-RBI double down the third-base line brought home second baseman Cory Acton and third baseman Kirby McMullen to get UF on the board. Calilao went on to score moments later off a wild pitch from Choban to give the orange and blue a three-run lead.

The sophomore’s showing in the fourth inning propelled No. 4 Florida to a 10-0 victory over Marshall at Alfred A. McKethan Stadium.

“To break through and get a big hit like that was clutch for us,” coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “The thing about Kendrick is he always has quality at-bats, for the most part...Somebody needed to come up with a big hit, and certainly he did.”

Right-hander Jack Leftwich got the start on the mound for Florida (2-0) in the second game of its opening series against Marshall (0-2).

The junior struggled in the first inning, giving up two hits to the first four batters.

Leftwich, however, responded with 1-2-3 innings in the second and third to calm his nerves for the remainder of the game.

He allowed just one more hit the rest of the way, finishing his first start of the 2020 campaign with eight strikeouts and zero walks after facing 22 batters in six innings pitched.

“I know how much it meant to him to be back out here,” catcher Cal Greenfield said about Leftwich, who missed some time last season with a blister on his pitching hand. “He’s a super competitive kid...It’s awesome to see him have an outing like this.”

Greenfield was the only Florida batter to have more than one hit on Saturday.

The junior singled through the left side in the fourth inning before recording an RBI single in the seventh to extend UF’s advantage to 6-0.

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Right fielder Jacob Young followed that up with an RBI single of his own, and center fielder Jud Fabian blasted a three-run homer over the right-field wall immediately after.

The Gators have now won 13 consecutive opening weekend series since O’Sullivan took over in 2008. And they’ll have a chance to sweep their first opponent for the sixth-straight season on Sunday afternoon with right-hander Nick Pogue set to take the mound.

Follow Bryan on Twitter @bryan_2712 and contact him at bmatamoros@alligator.org

Jack Leftwich

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