GAINESVILLE, Fla. - No. 11 Florida produced its second-straight home shutout to edge out Jacksonville in a 1-0 pitchers' duel on Tuesday night.
The Gators (11-3) have now held opposing teams scoreless across the last-25 innings at home dating back to Feb. 27 vs. Georgia State. Florida shut out Florida A&M, 17-0, on March 2 in the team's last home contest prior to tonight. This is the first time Florida has shut out its opponents in back-to-back home games since March 14, 2017 (1-0 vs. Florida State) to March 24, 2017 (1-0 vs. LSU).
Right-handed pitcher Tyler Nesbitt made his long-awaited return from Tommy John surgery, picking up the start on the mound for his first appearance since March 10, 2020 vs. Florida State - a span of 729 days. Nesbitt appeared to be in midseason form, shutting down the Dolphins (8-5) across 2.0 shutout innings.
Reliever Ryan Slater took over for Nesbitt in the third and continued to trade zeros with Jacksonville starter Michael Darrell-Hicks. The Palm Harbor, Fla. native blanked the Dolphins across three perfect innings from the third through the sixth, retiring all-12 batters he faced in order while notching a pair of strikeouts.
Slater's dominant relief outing allowed the Gators offense to score the lone run of the game in the bottom of the sixth. With two outs, Wyatt Langford drew a walk and BT Riopelle reached on a bunt single down the third-base line. Kendrick Calilao then stepped to the plate and broke the scoreless tie with an RBI single to left field, plating Langford and putting Florida up, 1-0.
Slater held the Dolphins in check through the seventh frame, facing the minimum of 15 batters. Right-hander Nick Ficarrotta relieved Slater in the eighth and proceeded to hold the score for the two innings to follow. In doing so, Ficarrotta secured his third save of the season and second in Florida's last-three games. The righty finished with 2.0 scoreless innings pitched on one hit and two walks while striking out two.
Slater (1-0) earned his first collegiate victory, firing a career-high 5.0 innings with zero runs allowed on one hit. He struck out two while facing the minimum of 15 batters.
Nesbitt tossed 2.0 innings to open the shutout, scattering one hit and one walk while striking out three.
Darrell-Hicks (0-1) was saddled with the loss, pitching 5.2 innings with one earned run allowed on five hits and two walks. He struck out three.
Kris Armstrong (3-for-3) and Calilao (2-for-3) were the lone Gators to collect multiple hits.
- The Gators have now held opposing teams scoreless across the last-25 innings at home dating back to Feb. 27 vs. Georgia State.
- Tonight's game marked the first time Florida has shut out its opponents in back-to-back home games since March 14, 2017 (1-0 vs. Florida State) to March 24, 2017 (1-0 vs. LSU).
- The Gators held their opponent to three hits or fewer for the third time this season.
- This is Florida's first 1-0 victory since March 27, 2018 vs. Florida State (in Jacksonville).
- Head coach Kevin O'Sullivan won his 400th career home game tonight. O'Sullivan now sits at 596 career victories - just four away from reaching the milestone of 600 wins (all at Florida).
- Florida is now 65-34 all-time vs. Jacksonville including 40-15 in Gainesville. Under head coach Kevin O'Sullivan, the Gators rise to 19-6 vs. the Dolphins including a 15-4 mark at home. Florida has won 10 of the last-11 meetings with Jacksonville.
- Florida improves to 34-6 across the program's last-40 regular season games at Florida Ballpark. The Gators are 19-3 in their last-22 regular season home games.
- The Gators have won 10 of their last-11 games overall.
- Colby Halter extended his season-opening hitting streak to 14 games. Halter owns a 16-game hitting streak dating back to last season.
- Sterlin Thompson saw his 13-game hitting streak come to an end.
- Slater pitched a career-high five shutout innings.
- Armstrong tied his career high with a three-hit night.
FROM HEAD COACH KEVIN O'SULLIVAN
On Jacksonville's pitching staff... "We knew coming in that their starter was really good, really talented. Obviously, [Tyler] Vogel has got five saves on the year and he's got a really good arm. We knew that. We talked to the team about that. This is not going to be one of those games that was going to be easy and we needed to play clean. We had one opportunity with runners on second and third in the third. We just have to have a little bit of a better at bat there and get that run in because it kind of felt like it was going to be a one-run game. We laid down three really good drags tonight. BT had another one, Colby had one, and Wyatt had one. People keep asking me about the short game, but this field plays different than McKethan. It's 380 feet in the gaps and plays big at times, especially when the wind is blowing in. It's not like McKethan where it's 365 in the gaps and the game has changed with the shifts and all those types of things. If they are going to give you a hit, you might as well take it."
On Kris Armstrong's performance at the plate... "I think all three hits were off-speed pitches. It was really good. Really pleased with how he played tonight."
On Florida's pitching performance... "Nesbitt, two innings with a little bit of everything. He had two runners on in the first and pitched out of the stretch. It was a little bit stressful for him. He hadn't pitched in, you told me how many days he hasn't pitched. He threw two scoreless. It was important for us to get Ryan [Slater] out there for an extended period because he's coming off Tommy John, too. I think we've been using him in probably more leverage situations early in the year. Tonight was the night he needed to go out there and pitch. He looked very, very comfortable. He had all three pitches working. Fic was great at the end, too. It was a really quality win."
FROM STARTING PITCHER TYLER NESBITT
On his surgery and rehab... "I got the news like a week before the  season because I threw and just couldn't throw no more. To hear that, it really hurt because I had worked the whole fall and spring to get ready for the season and I felt like I was there and it just got taken away from me."
On his return... "Nervous in the first inning, second inning I felt a lot more confident, a lot more settled down. Everything felt just a lot more smooth in the second inning."
Florida and Jacksonville meet again on Wednesday at 6 p.m. The game will stream live on SEC Network+.