With two outs in the bottom of the tenth inning, sophomore right fielder Kendrick Calilao belted a walk-off solo shot over the left-field wall at Florida Ballpark Tuesday to lift the Gators over the Seminoles.
“I think tonight’s win followed up by Sunday’s win against Tennessee certainly should give us a lot of confidence moving forward,” head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “I would expect us to hopefully get on a little bit of a run here and play like we’re capable.”
After it sought revenge against FSU, Florida will host Missouri this weekend in a three-game home series.
Clinching the series would bump the No. 18 team in the nation above .500 in the SEC. Florida is 6-6, which matches its conference schedule start in 2017 when it finished 21-9. That season, the Gators captured their first College World Series title.
The Tigers claim a 4-8 conference and 11-20 overall record. They’re 7-9 on the road and enter the weekend off a home loss to Missouri State. Missouri’s lone conference series victory came at home against Texas A&M, who Florida swept March 20.
Over the past 14 innings, Florida’s pitching staff surrendered only one earned run. Sophomore right-hander Christian Scott tossed 4 ⅔ scoreless innings and picked up his first win this year Sunday at Tennessee.
Right-handed pitcher Garrett Milchin threw six solid innings Tuesday before junior right-hander Jack Leftwich held the Seminoles hitless for the final four innings.
“He (Milchin) did everything we could have asked from him and then obviously Jack (Leftwich) was outstanding,” O’Sullivan said. “Really proud of both of those guys,”
The recent domination on the hill bodes well for the Gators considering Missouri’s entire batting lineup hits under .300 and averages 5.2 runs a game.
The Gators hit .278 — 37 points higher than Mizzou’s league-worst average — and score 6.8 runs per game. The Tigers hold a league-worst 7.35 team ERA, so expect plenty of Florida scoring opportunities.
Despite the glaring advantage at the plate, O’Sullivan emphasized Florida’s need to adjust its approach on fastball counts.
“When you face better pitching and they have the ability to slow the ball down, they’re just not going to throw 1-0 fastballs over and over,” he said. “So we’ve got to do a better job making adjustments there for sure.”
Florida is off to a shaky start in the field this year. The Gators are the only SEC team with 40 errors and their .968 fielding percentage ranks at the bottom. Freshman infielders Josh Rivera and Colby Halter committed 16 errors combined through the first 33 games.
The series opener will begin at 6:30 p.m. Friday and air on SEC Network+.
Contact Griffin Foll at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @GriffinFoll
Griffin Foll is a sophomore at UF studying journalism sports and media. He is one of The Alligator's women’s basketball beat writers. Griffin is also a UF softball beat reporter for ChompTalk.com and contributes weekly articles for ESPN Gainesville.