Florida right-hander Jack Leftwich's 2019 season has been a bit of a rollercoaster ride.
Leftwich started out the year 4-0, but a nagging blister on his throwing hand negatively affected his performance. The sophomore sat at 4-5 coming into Friday night's game.
That coaster went back up as Leftwich picked up his first win since March 31 and pitched his first complete game of the season, shutting out the Missouri Tigers and leading the Gators to a 2-0 victory at Taylor Stadium in Columbia, Missouri.
Leftwich struck out nine Tigers and allowed just two hits.
"The whole game I felt kind of relaxed," Leftwich said in a televised interview after the game. "Trying not to overthrow, which I felt like I had been doing all year."
Florida (32-23, 12-17 SEC) and Missouri (34-20-1, 13-15-1 SEC) both had outstanding performances from their starters.
Mizzou's TJ Sikkema went nine innings as well, giving up two runs on three hits. He reached double digits in strikeouts with 10 and walked just one Gator on the night.
UF made Sikkema pay just once during the game. In the top of the fourth inning, left fielder Austin Langworthy gave the Gators a 2-0 lead when he sent a 3-2 pitch from Sikkema over the right-field fence, scoring shortstop Brady McConnell.
That was all it took for Leftwich, whose ERA plummeted over a full point with the effort, dropping from 6.94 to 5.82.
"It's been an unfortunate year for (Leftwich)," coach Kevin O'Sullivan said in a release. "It's just been one of those weird years where he hasn't had the opportunity to be healthy… That's about as good of a performance as I can remember, especially on the road with a lot at stake."
The Gators have picked up two crucial victories in two days as the team continues to cling to its NCAA Tournament hopes that were dwindling before the Missouri series. Florida will go for its first road sweep of the season on Saturday in Game 3 from Columbia.
"It's been tough on the road for us," Leftwich said. "It's been mostly the pitcher's fault, because the hitters have gotten the runs for us, and we just haven't helped them out…I just wanted to do better and help out the hitters."
Follow Evan Lepak on Twitter @evanmplepak. Contact him at [email protected].