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UF Baseball: Gators Blank Dolphins to Even Series

Courtesy of University Athletic Association

BY SKIP POWERS

Florida downs Jacksonville, 9-0

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The No. 5-ranked Florida baseball team held Jacksonville to just two hits to even the series with a 9-0 victory Saturday evening from Florida Ballpark/McKethan Field.

Fourth-year junior hurler Jack Leftwich kept the Dolphins’ bats silent as he allowed just two hits and struck out seven in six innings to improve to 3-0. Freshman Jordan Carrion and second-year freshman Brandon Sproat combined to toss three innings of hitless relief.

Second-year freshman shortstop Josh Rivera opened the scoring for the Gators, smacking his second home run in consecutive at-bats as he laced a liner over the left field wall in the second inning to give Florida a 1-0 lead.

The Gators expanded their lead to 3-0 when second-year freshman Nathan Hickey launched a two-run shot over the wall in center for his fourth home run on the season.

Florida tacked on one more in the sixth to push the lead to 4-0 when freshman Colby Halter scored on a wild pitch. The Gators added five more in the eighth inning to secure the victory. Third-year sophomore Jud Fabian recorded a two-run single, and Kirby McMullen ripped his third home run on the year, a two-run shot over the wall in center.

The Gators collected 12 hits and were led by Hickey’s 3-for-5 performance. Fabian and McMullen both tallied two hits apiece.

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Hickey. The second-year freshman recorded three hits and drove in two runs. For the second time in three games, Hickey has tallied three or more hits.

STANDOUT STAT: 2 – The Gators’ arms bounced back in a big way Saturday evening, allowing just two hits. Carrion struck out two in two innings of relief, while Sproat shut the door with a strikeout in the final frame.

FROM COACH KEVIN O’SULLIVAN

On Jack Leftwich…
“He was really good tonight. Got us deep into the game because our bullpen was a little light. He did a really nice job.”

On needing more innings from the starters…
“Yeah, we talked to the starters today. Until we get a couple guys back healthy and get them a few more outings, our starters need to go deeper. Jack (Leftwich) certainly did that today. I thought Jordan Carrion was outstanding. His angle of his fastball was really good. He threw the fastball to both sides of the plate, really good breaking ball. Looking at the way he was throwing tonight, we probably need to put him in a little more leveraged situation. Possibly, and I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but he’s a guy we look at towards the end of the game. He kind of checks all the boxes. Whether that’s going to happen or not is up to him, but we’ll certainly look at it. He’s got the makeup, instincts as a baseball player. He throws a ton of strikes, he holds runners, and obviously, he can field his position. He does a lot of things that you need a guy at the end of the game. We’ll see, but I think we learned a lot about our team tonight. Number one, we bounce back from a tough night last night. Brandon Sproat was really good at the end. Regardless of the score, he went and threw a clean inning. He needed to do that and I’m really pleased with how he threw. Offensively, I think (Nathan) Hickey got three hits. Jud (Fabian) seemed to have some good at bats tonight. I thought Mac Guscette was outstanding behind the plate. We had maybe one or two drops. Hit the ball hard three times, threw the ball really well behind the plate. He certainly is starting to really put himself in a really good position for us as far as the trust factor. It was a good game. Like I said, you really don’t know how your team is going to respond from a tough night last night, and they certainly responded positively.”

NEXT TIME OUT: The Gators look to secure the series on Sunday when the two teams meet for the rubber match at 1 p.m.