Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

A Pitched Battle in Gainesville; Bullpen Was Barely Needed in Gators' Regional Victory

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

A Pitched Battle in Gainesville; Bullpen Was Barely Needed in Gators' Regional Victory

Article excerpt

Byline: MICHAEL DIROCCO

GAINESVILLE -- The postseason certainly seems to bring out the best in Florida's starting pitchers.

The staff has put together dominant performances in the NCAA regionals the past two seasons, including last weekend's job in the Gainesville Regional in which the Gators allowed only eight runs in wins over Stetson, North Carolina and Notre Dame to advance to this weekend's Super Regional against Florida State.

"So often in this game, you're only as good as you are on the mound that day," Florida coach Pat McMahon said. "And this time of year, you hope one or two guys get hot."

That happened last year in the Oklahoma City Regional, when UF's three starters pitched 26 of the 27 innings and gave up just four runs, struck out 13 and walked only four in wins over Central Connecticut State and UCLA (twice). Included was a complete-game 10-hitter from Connor Falkenbach, who had spent the majority of the season in the bullpen.

And it happened last weekend at McKethan Stadium, when starters Bryan Ball, Tommy Boss and Alan Horne combined to throw 22 2/3 of 27 innings, give up 15 hits and seven runs, and strike out 16 while walking only four.

"Seems like the end of the year those guys really pick it up, always hit their stride in the regional," said reliever Darren O'Day, a former Bishop Kenny standout who threw two innings in UF's 23-3 rout of Notre Dame last Sunday. "Tommy and Connor at the end of the year last year seemed like they were our No. 1 and 2 and [season-long ace Justin] Hoyman was our third starter. Hopefully, it continues this year.

"They pitched great this [past] weekend and it seems like we don't need the bullpen. If they go out and pitch like that, I'm going to be sitting in the dugout a lot."

O'Day gave up one run on two hits against the Irish, and Falkenbach didn't give up a run on four hits in 2 1/3 innings against Stetson on Saturday. …

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