LHP Hunter Barco fanned 10 and allowed two hits in 6.2 scoreless innings
No. 10 Florida baseball took the series at Kentucky with a 9-2 win on Saturday at Kentucky Proud Park, highlighted by LHP Hunter Barco’s two-hit, 10-strikeout start. The Florida starter threw 6.2 scoreless innings as he matched his career-high in strikeouts. Jacob Young led the Gators’ offensive attack with a 4-for-5 day at the plate with four RBIs and a pair of runs scored.
Florida (33-14, 15-9 SEC) scored a run in each of the first three innings, jumping ahead early as Nathan Hickey’s first-inning triple set up a Jud Fabian sacrifice fly.
Young’s second-inning chopper up the middle bounced off the bag and eluded Kentucky second baseman Zeke Lewis, allowing Kendrick Calilao to cross for a 2-0 edge. Calilao then delivered a two-out RBI in the third, bringing Kris Armstrong across. Young added another RBI in the fifth, lifting a sacrifice fly to center field that brought Calilao home to push the UF advantage to 4-0.
Kentucky (27-17, 11-13 SEC) got two back on a pair of eighth-inning solo home runs from Coltyn Kessler and Oraj Anu, but Florida reliever Jack Leftwich came on and stopped the Kentucky rally.
Florida added four runs in the ninth after loading the bases with one out. Young smacked a two-RBI single, followed by two more runs off a Nathan Hickey double into the right field corner.
Leftwich blanked Kentucky in the ninth to pick up his second save of the weekend and fourth of the season.
* Barco rung up 10 strikeouts, matching his career high, set earlier this season vs. Samford on Feb. 28. The left-handed pitcher allowed no runs and two hits in 6.2 innings, improving to 8-2 this season. * Young had his second career four-hit game, going 4-for-5 with four RBIs. Young also went 4-for-5 on Feb. 28 vs. Samford. * Over a five-inning span beginning with Friday’s eighth and through Saturday’s third, Calilao went 4-for-4 with five RBIs. With a walk in his next appearance, Calilao reached base on his first five plate appearances this weekend.
FROM COACH KEVIN O’SULLIVAN On Hunter Barco and the rest of the pitching performances today… “He got underneath a lot of those right-handed hitters’ barrels, and I thought his last two innings might’ve been the best two innings of the whole day. Really pleased with his outing, obviously, and we needed that against a really good offensive Kentucky team. I thought Christian Scott came in and did a real nice job again. Even though he gave up a couple home runs today, I think between last night and tonight he’s starting to get back on track. And what can you say about Jack Leftwich? He pitched three days in a row and has really kind of solidified himself at the end of ballgames.”
On Jacob Young coming through in big spots offensively… “He’s a grinder. Obviously, at the start of the season he had that long hitting streak. It was probably frustrating the first couple games offensively, but I thought they did a nice job pitching against him, to be quite honest with you. I think he made some adjustments today … He’s a really good player. We’re fortunate to have him. Obviously, he stepped up today and gave us a really good game at the plate.”
UP NEXT: Florida visits Stetson on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. in the Gators’ final midweek game, which will stream on ESPN+ and will be available on radio on WRUF 850 AM/98.1 FM in Gainesville and on any mobile device via the TuneIn app (search for the “Florida Baseball” station). The Gators then host Georgia in UF’s final regular season home games, scheduled for a 6:30 p.m. start on Friday and Saturday and noon on Sunday.