As he did Friday night at McKethan Stadium, sophomore right fielder Wil Dalton lifted Florida when the Gators needed it most, while Tyler Dyson turned in a quality start on the mound that turned into one of his best performances in his short UF career as a starting pitcher.
Making his fifth start, Dyson struck out seven batters across a career-high seven innings while Dalton’s would-be single turned into a pair of runs as the No.1-ranked UF baseball team overcame an early deficit and secured a weekend sweep of Stony Brook University with a 3-1 win Sunday.
“I’m happy with it. There’s still a lot to improve on,” Dyson said of his work throughout the early stretch of UF’s season. “What really matters is the SEC play coming up. So if I can keep rolling into those, I’ll be good.”
Dalton entered the contest tied with a team-leading .404 batting average after delivering three home runs in Florida’s 12-5 win Friday, and Dalton again found himself providing a boost with UF trailing early.
Despite UF giving up a run in the first inning after blanking the Seawolves (6-4) on Saturday, Dyson (2-1, 1.42 ERA) would keep Stony Brook from padding the lead while the Gators searched for opportunities to get on the scoreboard.
“I felt like I battled through that inning,” Dyson said. “We’ve just got to limit the damage when it gets like that. Just limit it the best you can. I felt like the rest of the game went very well.”
Florida would tie things back up in the fourth when Austin Langworthy’s single to left center brought home senior catcher JJ Schwarz.
“I think the at-bat that changed the whole game, was JJ’s at-bat to lead off the fourth,” UF coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “We scored only one run that inning, but it drove up their pitcher’s pitch count a little bit.”
The Gators (12-1) broke through an inning later with Dalton’s fielder’s choice. With runners on first and second, Stony Brook third baseman Bobby Honeyman stepped on the bag but proceeded to throw wide of first baseman Michael Russell, allowing UF’s Nick Horvath to head from first to home. Dalton advanced to third, but the Seawolves inexplicably opted not to throw to the home plate, giving Dalton an uncontested opportunity to score another run.
“The heads-up, aggressive base-running by Dalton,” O’Sullivan said, “was obviously big for us.”
Michael Byrne replaced Dyson in the eighth inning and allowed just two hits the rest of the way to secure the winy.
Florida returns to the diamond Tuesday when the Gators head to Orlando for a mid-week home-and-home series with the University of Central Florida at 6:30 p.m.
“The mark of a good pitcher is to be able to keep your team in it,” O’Sullivan said of Dyson’s performance. “And be able to win games when they don’t have their best stuff.
“We’re getting really good starting pitching. Probably with the freshmen that have pitched on the mound, we’re probably a little bit ahead of where I expected us to be.”