Florida won its fifth straight baseball series over Miami on Sunday, but to hear Kevin O’Sullivan talk about it UF won the series the night before.
The fifth-ranked Gators (5-3) won for the second game in a row, taking Miami 4-1 as 4,398 watched at McKethan Stadium.
This was a series heading in the wrong direction before Wil Dalton’s three-run triple Saturday night.
“Wil’s at-bat probably changed the whole complexion of the weekend,” O’Sullivan said. “It got the fans into it and loosened everybody up.”
Florida won that game 9-3 and on Sunday banged out 10 hits and used strong relief pitching to handle Miami (5-2).
“Lot of lessons to be learned this weekend,” O’Sullivan said. “It says a lot about our character and fight to come back and win the series after Friday night. It’s only going to help us down the road.”
The Gators benefited from three hits from freshman Kendrick Calilao, including his first career homer.
Oh, and it was his 19th birthday.
“That’s baseball for you,” he said.
Calilao is now hitting .435, tops on the team, with six RBI and 17 total bases. He was moved up to the No. 4 spot in the batting order Saturday night.
“People get into grooves and you just continue to hit the ball and feel good at the plate,” Calilao said. “You do your best when you’re not thinking at all. I’m kind of in that stage right now.”
The youth movement extended to the mound where freshman Nolan Crisp picked up his fourth save of the season pitching a 1-2-3 ninth with two strikeouts. Crisp skipped his senior year of high school to join the Florida team.
“He’s just really competitive. He’s a bulldog,” O’Sullivan said. “The older guys can learn from watching him. He’s supposed to be pitching to high school kids right now.”
Florida got the early lead in the rubber game on a single by Calilao to score Austin Langworthy from second. Miami tied it on a booming solo homer by freshman Adrian Del Castillo, Miami’s fourth long ball of the series.
The Gators retook the lead in the bottom of the inning when Blake Reese singled and Cory Acton scored when the throw got away from shortstop Freddy Zamora on the relay for an error.
UF made it 3-1 when Calilao drilled only Florida’s second homer of the season in the sixth and Reese singled in an insurance run in the eighth.
Gator start Jack Leftwich pitched five solid innings, but needed 92 pitches. Leftwich allowed a run and five hits, striking out seven.
Jordan Butler pitched three scoreless innings in relief, countering Miami’s lefty dominated line-up.
“Just trusting my pitches,” he said. “The offense got us a lead and I just kept throwing strikes. You never know how long you are going to go.”
Florida has another busy week ahead of it with five games. The Gators are at Jacksonville on Tuesday (6 p.m.) and then at home for UCF on Wednesday and a three-game series with Winthrop.
The Gators had lost three straight and were trailing Miami 3-0 on Saturday night before the series turned around. Things also got chippy during that game with both benches emptying.
“The loss on Friday woke us up more than anything,” Butler said. “(The Saturday incident) kind of fired us up, like, this is serious, Let’s go. Let’s beat these guys.”
And then they did.
Note: The Gators have won 14 of the last 16 games and 30 of the last 38 against Miami. O’Sullivan is 31-13 against Miami.