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UF Baseball: Four-Home-Run Night Lifts No. 9 Florida to Eighth Straight Series Win at Home

Photo by Chris Kim

Courtesy of University Athletic Association

BY SULLIVAN BORTNER

No. 9 Florida baseball clubbed four home runs to win game two against Georgia by a 9-2 score and clinch their eighth consecutive series victory at home on Saturday night. Outfielder Jud Fabian launched two home runs to become just the fifth player in Gator baseball history to hit 20 or more homers in a single season.

The offensive charge was led by Fabian (2-for-3), Josh Rivera (2-for-3), and Kendrick Calilao (2-for-3), with all three players homering in the win, including Fabian’s fourth two-homer game of the campaign. Rivera led the way with a career-high four RBI, while Fabian drove in two runs alongside Jacob Young, who collected two RBI as well.

Georgia jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the second inning, scoring on a wild pitch and subsequent RBI infield single by Randon Jernigan. The Gators answered right back in the bottom half of the frame, as Young singled in Rivera and Calilao with two outs and the bases loaded to bring the score back even at 2-2.

From there, Florida opened up the flood gates offensively. Jud Fabian launched his 19th home run of the season to left field in the third inning to gain a share of the SEC lead in long balls. Two batters later, Calilao left the yard for the second consecutive night, taking a 1-0 offering over the left-center-field wall to extend the Gator lead to 4-2.

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In the fifth, the Gators again struck for two home runs. Fabian led off the inning with his second home run of the game and 20th of the season, putting him atop the SEC home run leaderboard. The solo shot also marked his fourth two-homer game of the season and third straight Saturday with two home runs in one game.

Following Fabian’s lead, Rivera blasted a two-run shot to left in the fifth for his fifth home run of the season. Two innings later, Rivera drove in two more runs with a one-out RBI single to left field, giving him a career-high four runs driven in on the day. The two-run single brought the score to its eventual final tally of 9-2.

The bullpen duo of Christian Scott and David Luethje combined for 2.2 scoreless innings of relief to nail down the series-clinching win. The Florida bullpen has now provided five scoreless innings of relief through the first two games of the series, striking out six while allowing just three hits in the process.

Gator starter Hunter Barco was excellent yet again on the mound, improving to 6-0 over his previous seven games started. On top of earning the win, Barco tossed 6.1 innings and allowed two runs on six hits and two walks while striking out eight. Barco has now struck out seven or more batters on seven separate occasions this season.
Georgia starting pitcher Jaden Woods received the loss, lasting just 2.1 innings and allowing four earned runs on four hits and four walks with four strikeouts.

NOTABLES

  *   By homering twice for the third straight Saturday, Fabian now leads the SEC with 20 home runs. Fabian is one of just five players to hit 20 home runs in a season in Florida history, tying Matt LaPorta’s 2007 mark for sixth all-time in a single season (LaPorta appears twice on the list and has the record at 26). The performance also marked Fabian’s fourth two-homer game of the year.
  *   With Saturday’s win, Florida has now won eight consecutive series at home. The Gators improve to 17-2 over their last 19 home games, including wins in 11 of their last 12 at Florida Ballpark.
  *   Florida has won 15 of their last 19 games overall.
  *   Florida’s four home runs tied their season high. The Gators also hit four home runs on March 12 against Jacksonville and on May 1 versus Vanderbilt.
  *   Rivera’s four-RBI performance signified a new single-game career high.
  *   With a 1-for-3 showing in game two, Kirby McMullen extended his on-base streak to 22 games.

FROM HEAD COACH KEVIN O’SULLIVAN

On Hunter Barco’s recent string of success…
“The thing about tonight was he’s been feeling a little under the weather for a good part of a week, and he just battled through it and gave us his best effort. After the second inning, he was really sharp. I thought in the first inning he was good, too.”

On how the team seems to be hitting their stride at the right time…
“It’s a long season. The whole goal is to play your best baseball at the end and to continue to improve as the season goes on, and I think we’ve been able to do that. I think there are a couple things that have maybe sparked our team a little bit. Number one, Tommy [Mace] going back to the Friday night starter. Hunter [Barco] being really consistent, like you said, over the last month. Jack [Leftwich]’s presence at the back end of the bullpen. Jud [Fabian], the way he’s been swinging the bat recently. And I think [Kendrick Calilao] and Cory [Acton] have a lot to do with that as well. I think there’s a lot of factors, but obviously, I’m pleased with how we’ve been playing.”

On Fabian homering twice for the third straight Saturday…
 “The thing about Jud is that he has 20 home runs now. We were talking in the dugout in between innings. This field is not one of the easiest fields to hit home runs at. 380 to the gap and the wind doesn’t always blow out. But I think the other thing that a lot of people need to keep in mind when he was going through some difficult times during the season, a two-week stretch during a college season seems like eternity. But at the next level, when he decides to go to the next level, it’s a totally different season and you play almost three times as many games. But he’s doing great, he has handled it great… That’s not an easy thing to do to hit 20 home runs at this ballpark. It just speaks volumes of the type of player he is and him fighting through the adversity that he went through.

UP NEXT
Florida and Georgia square off for the third and final game of the series at 12 p.m. ET on Sunday with coverage on SEC Network. Game three will also serve as Florida’s senior day. Fans can also tune in on radio via WRUF 850 AM/98.1 FM in Gainesville, 1010XL in Jacksonville and on any mobile device via the TuneIn app (search for the “Florida Baseball” station).

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