Sophomore pitcher Tyler Dyson spiked his pitch into the dirt. The ball skipped between the legs of catcher Cal Greenfield and to his right, allowing Siena’s Brendan Conley to advance to third.
Conley had initially reached base because of another erratic throw from Dyson — a first pitch to Conley that grazed his elbow.
Joe Drpich looks more like an offensive lineman than a baseball player.
Dyson needed help. The encouragement started from the crowd, circling the bleachers.
“Let’s go, Tyler!”
It spread to the infield. From second baseman Blake Reese and first baseman JJ Schwarz, the cheer made its way to right fielder Nelson Maldonado.
“Come on, Dye!”
Needing just one strike to get out of the jam, Dyson let a 2-2 pitch fly. The ball struck aluminum and came right back through the middle of the infield to score the run.
While Dyson struggled with command of his fastball, the Gators’ offense let loose on its way to a 19-2 win in the final matchup of its series with Siena (0-3) on Sunday afternoon at McKethan Stadium.
Dyson ended his afternoon after six innings pitched, allowing one earned run on five hits while compiling three strikeouts. He also hit Siena shortstop Marcos Campos in the head with the first pitch of his at-bat, sending his batting helmet spinning to the dirt in the top of the third. The hit batter preempted first baseman JJ Schwarz jogging to the mound for some quick encouragement from the senior captain.
“There’s some things that I need to tweak a little bit,” Dyson said. “A couple of times today, I got kind of out of sync and was pushing the ball a little bit.”
While he may not have brought his best stuff to the mound, Dyson still threw his fastball at a consistent 92-93 mph while sparingly using his 82-mph changeup.
“He was a little off, to be honest,” coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “I would bet that you’re gonna see a much better Dyson next weekend.”
Florida (3-0) started off the scoring in the first inning with a bases-loaded double from designated hitter Keenan Bell that scored two runs. The sophomore finished the game 2-of-3 from the plate with four RBIs, hammering a home run into the Siena bullpen in right center field in the fifth inning.
“Keenan’s a legitimate power bat in the middle of the order,” O’Sullivan said.
Heading into the bottom of the sixth with a 7-1 lead, the Gators offense wasn’t content with cruising to the finish line. UF sent nine men to the plate before the Saints recorded the first out of the inning. The frame featured a bases-loaded wild pitch, a balk and three extra-base hits.
By the time Siena finally recorded the third out, the game had morphed into a 16-1 dismantling of the Saints.
“I think it’s a testament to a long offseason and a lot of hard work,” Reese said. “I was really impressed with our offense, obviously. I don’t remember putting up 19 runs, I think, since I’ve been here.”
The Gators have Monday off before returning to McKethan Stadium to face Florida Atlantic on Tuesday night at 6.