In Jud Fabian’s first 20 at-bats this season, he had three hits and a single RBI. His .150 batting average was eyebrow-raising for a top-10 prospect and unanimous preseason All-American.
His next plate two appearances were both massive home runs.
A solo shot in the third forced a car to stop along Hull Road after leaving the ballpark. Later,his three-run bomb in the fifth blew the game open, giving the Gators a 5-0 lead they would never relinquish en route to a 8-3 victory.
The home runs were Fabians only two hits on the night, but it was enough to give the star prospect a shot of electricity after what he called a frustrating opening series against Miami.
“That’s part of the game of baseball, you’re going to have some ups and you’re going to have some downs, and those were some downs,” Fabian said. “I just really kind of put it aside and got it out of my head, talked to a few of the coaches about my swing and got my mental side of things back to where it needed to be.”
Fabian also had a highlight reel play in the outfield. He closed the sixth inning when he threw out a runner at home from centerfield, his throw finding Nathan Hickey in the perfect spot at the plate.
The final score may not show it, but the first four innings Wednesday were a pitcher’s duel. Florida freshman Chase Centala got the first start of his collegiate career. He found out he would be the opening pitcher after the pregame meal, he said after the game.
“I started stretching on the half field with the entire team and [volunteer assistant coach Lars Davis] came over and he was like, ‘You’re starting, you don’t need to stretch with them,’” Centala said. “That’s when it kind of registered, I was like, ‘Okay, I’m actually going to start today.’”
He responded with a four-inning gem for the Gators, striking out four batters and only allowing four hits while not allowing a single Osprey across the plate. He had a runner on third base with one out in the third inning, but struck out the next two batters to keep UNF scoreless.
Before the fifth inning, Fabian’s solo shot was the only run of the game. However, after a pair of singles from Kendrick Calilao, who got the start at first base, and true freshman second baseman Jordan Carrion, as well as a fielding error from the Ospreys, Florida had the bases loaded. Left fielder Jacob Young’s sacrifice fly to right field made it a 2-0 ball game before Fabian’s three-run home run split the game apart.
Young continued to make history against the Ospreys. A leadoff double in the opening inning extended his hit streak to 23 games and a staggering 635 days. A hit in the Gators’ next game against Samford Friday would tie the longest hit-streak in the Kevin O’Sullivan era, squaring him with Jonathan India’s 24-game run three years ago.
After a scoreless opening five innings, graduate transfer Trey Van Der Weide had some struggles in the sixth. After two walks and a single, Osprey designated hitter Robbie Scott cleared the loaded bases with a double, scoring all three UNF runs of the game in one swift blow to close the gap to 5-3, but it was all Gators from there on out.
The bullpen hardened as well. Christian Scott impressed again out of the bullpen as he still hasn’t allowed a run in 6.2 innings of work this year. Freshman Timmy Manning allowed one hit in two scoreless innings in his orange and blue debut to close out the game.
The Gators, now 3-2 on the year, will play a three-game weekend series against Samford starting Friday at 6:30 pm.
Contact Ryan Haley at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @ryan_dhaley
Ryan Haley is a second-year journalism major with a sports & media specialization from Jacksonville, Florida. He grew up playing a bunch of different sports before settling on golf, following Rory McIlroy and all Philadelphia sports teams. He also loves all things fiction, reading, watching shows and movies and talking about whatever current story or character is in his head.