Florida Gators lean on Horvath in 4-3 win over UCF

University of Florida pitcher/outfielder Nick Horvath throws against FGCU in 2016 / Gator Country photo by David Bowie Nick Horvath trotted in from center field to pitch. He had to make a pit stop in the dugout to get his pitching glove. With two outs and the tying run on second base in a 4-3 game with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. Horvath struck out Austin Griffin to give the Florida Gators (7-1) a 4-3 win over UCF (7-1).

It wasn’t the first big situation Horvath faced on Tuesday night.

Horvath was initially brought in to pitch in the seventh inning. Freshman Andrew Baker gave up back-to-back hits to start the frame and was quickly replaced by Garrett Milchin. The freshman making his first career appearance walked a batter and got a line out before Kevin O’Sullivan went back to the bullpen, calling on Horvath.

The left-hander surrendered a run on a 6-3 putout and then intentionally walked Rylan Thomas to load the bases with two outs. Horvath then fell down 3-0 to
Kam Gellinger.

“That’s tough,” catcher Mark Kolozsvary said. “You don’t ever want to fall behind batters, especially after you put one on to load the bases. That kind of makes it tough.”

Horvath came back all the way back to strikeout Gellinger, providing his first game changing moment.

“We gotta limit the leadoff walks and we had a lot of three ball counts,” O’Sullivan said. “We had a 3-0 count with the bases loaded and Nick did a nice job of coming back but we’ve gotta get better. We’ve gotta get better.”

Horvath was replaced by Frank Rubio in the eight inning, but O’Sullivan kept the two-way player Horvath in center field. It’s a strategic move that the Gators have talked about doing. With Horvath staying in the game the Gators give up their designated hitter but it allows for Horvath to come back in and pitch if need be.

“I think he likes it. We’ve talked about it a lot,” said O’Sullivan. “There’s another scenario where we would put Rubio in right field if the (opposing) lineup was split left-right-left-right. He’s been taking fly balls all the time. There’s a lot of different things we can do.”

“He’s a good athlete. That kid’s nuts,” Kolozsvary said of Horvath. “He can do everything on the field. It’s fun to watch him.”

Horvath will get the save and he had two clutch moments but the bottom half of the Gators’ lineup should get a hat tip as well.

The seven, eight and nine hitters (Christian Hicks, Mark Kolozsvary and Blake Reese) combined to go 3-8 with a home run, three RBI and three runs scored, while the rest of the lineup was 1-20.
Blake Reese doubled to deep center to get the Gators on the board in the bottom of the third inning. He blooped another single into center field in the fourth inning.“I got myself into a good situation, he fell behind and I was in a 3-1 count,” Reese said of his RBI double. […]