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UF Baseball: Gators Rout USF, Become Nation’s Last Undefeated Team

Jordan Butler tallied five RBIs Saturday evening.
Photo by Tim Casey

Courtesy of UF Athletic Association

Florida built a massive lead, as junior starting pitcher Jack Leftwich opened the game with six perfect innings, leading the top-ranked Gators to a decisive 15-5 victory over South Florida. UF improved to 15-0, and Alabama’s loss Saturday evening means the Gators are the last undefeated team in Division I.

Leftwich bounced back from a rocky outing a week ago, retiring USF’s first 18 batters. The perfect game ended with a lead-off walk in the top of the seventh, and Leftwich lost the no-hitter in the following at bat. The Orlando, Fla., native’s final line read: 6.2 innings pitched, three hits, three runs, one walk, and five strikeouts.

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By the time perfection ended for Leftwich, the Gators were ahead, 13-0. Florida scored in each of the first four innings, plating one run in the first, three in the second, one in the third, and three more in the fourth.

In the first, sophomore outfielder Jud Fabian led off with a double, eventually coming home via a pair of groundouts. The first two Gators batters drew walks in the second, after which freshman shortstop Josh Rivera and junior catcher Cal Greenfield combined for three RBIs with a pair of one-out singles. Florida’s run in the third came from sophomore outfielder Jacob Young’s RBI single, which extended his hitting streak to 16 games. In the fourth, junior utility man Jordan Butler and Young smacked consecutive singles to drive in three runs.

Florida scored five runs in the sixth with two swings of the bat, as Butler belted a three-run home run to right and freshman catcher Nathan Hickey blasted a two-run home run off the scoreboard in right. Hickey has homered in the last three games.

Greenfield’s two-run homer in the eighth inning gave the Gators 15 runs on the board, tying the season high they set in the third game of the year against Marshall.

STANDOUT STAT: .588 – Butler’s batting average the last six games. He entered the day 7-for-13 with three runs, three doubles, a home run, and six RBIs over the last five games. Saturday, he finished 3-for-4 with a home run and five RBIs.

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Greenfield. The junior catcher came into the game in a 0-for-16 slump, but he broke out of it to the tune of a 2-for-4 outing, tallying four RBIs, a home run, two runs, and a walk.

FROM COACH KEVIN O’SULLIVAN:

On Leftwich’s performance and the offense… “Thought he responded really well and was perfect through six. That long inning offensively probably got to him just a little bit. Really proud of the way he pitched today. Offensively, we got off to a good start. Jud [Fabian] had a two-strike double to start the game, got him over, and we got him in. Kirby [McMullen] did his job early in the count. Five guys had multi-hit games, and we spread it up and down the lineup. Really pleased with how we played. It was a complete game. Got a really good start from Jack [Leftwich]. Offensively, we were sharp, had some really good swings … and we played errorless ball defensively. Really nice day for us.”

UP NEXT: Florida looks to sweep the series Sunday at 1 p.m., with freshman left-handed pitcher Hunter Barco expected to take the hill against South Florida’s Carson Ragsdale. SEC Network +, via the ESPN app, will provide live streaming.

PROMOTIONS

Sunday, March 8th vs. South Florida

  *   Giveaway – Digital wristwatch to the first 500 fans in attendance
  *   Community Anthem – Kids (12 and under) can stand on the field next to their favorite Gators during the National Anthem! Sign-ups for this are on the third base side in autograph alley, beginning at 12 p.m. Sign-ups end at 12:30 p.m.
  *   Kids Circle The Bases – Kids (12 and under) can circle the bases following the game! Sign-ups for this are on the third base side in autograph alley, beginning in the 8th inning.
  *   Final Season Sign – Stop by the final season sign located next to the Gators Sports Shop on the concourse and take a photo!
  *   Foul Ball for Queso – If a fan catches a clean foul ball out of the air with no deflections, everyone in attendance will win free queso!
  *   Dollar Sundays – Fans may purchase general admission tickets for only $1!