By Zach Abolverdi, Correspondent
The No. 5 Florida baseball team completed its third sweep of the season Sunday with a 4-3 win over Yale at McKethan Stadium.
After clinching the series against the Bulldogs on Saturday, UF could’ve been tempted to look ahead to Tuesday’s showdown with rival Florida State. Instead, the Gators stayed locked in and pulled out a nail-biter.
“We were focused on Yale this whole day,” said freshman Jud Fabian, who hit two homers Sunday. “We thought about Florida State a little bit after the game, but during the game it was all Yale, because this was a big series for us. So to sweep was good.”
UF got on the board in the first inning when Jordan Butler doubled to left center field, scoring Nelson Maldonado and Brady McConnell. Butler got his first career start at first base with Wil Dalton out sick.
“I thought Jordan Butler’s first at-bat was a really good one,” Florida coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “Wil came to the ballpark and didn’t feel good, so we obviously made that change offensively. But it was a good weekend for us.”
Fabian opened the second with a leadoff home run over the left-field bleachers, giving the Gators a 3-0 lead. The freshmen went yard again in the fourth, his fifth homer of the season.
“I was just looking for fastballs and I got a few,” Fabian said. “Our scouting report was to see the ball up with that guy because he had sink. He threw me two fastballs and I just hit ’em.”
Pitcher Tyler Dyson (2-0) was solid through the first three innings, striking out two batters with a pair of hits allowed. He gave up two more hits in the fourth, including the first of two home runs from Yale’s Jake Gehri.
Gehri hit another one in the sixth inning, plating Griffin Dey to pull within one run of the Gators. Dyson came out after Gehri’s second homer, tossing 75 pitches in 5.1 innings. He had a couple extra sessions during the week with O’Sullivan, who called Dyson’s latest performance “a step in the right direction.”
“I felt good out there, probably the best I felt all season,” Dyson said. “I can keep my pitch count down. It’s something I’ve done before and I’m capable of doing. Now I just gotta go out there and show it every week.”
Hunter Ruth replaced Dyson and closed out the sixth with two outs on five pitches. Ruth faced Gehri in the eighth and struck him out looking to end the inning.
“That was huge,” Ruth said. “It felt real good, especially knowing what he could do.”
Ruth kept it rolling from there, striking out three consecutive batters in the ninth for the first save of his career. It was a big moment for the former Buchholz pitcher, who redshirted last season after Tommy John surgery.
“I thought Hunter Ruth came in and did a great job,” O’Sullivan said. “Had a little bit of a decision whether to leave him in there or bring in Nolan (Crisp), but it was fairly obvious he was throwing the ball really well.
“He’s really starting to come into his own. He’s going to be very, very valuable for us.”
The Gators improved to 13-5 by sweeping Yale (3-8) and can now turn their attention to Florida State. UF will host the No. 11 Seminoles (13-1) on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. (SEC Network)
“Big emotions. We’re excited for it,” Fabian said of the matchup. “They’ve only got one loss. We’re hoping to make it two losses.”