UF Baseball: Hickey’s Grand Slam Opens Floodgates as Gators Rout Samford

Nathan Hickey hit Florida’s first grand slam since 2019.

Courtesy of University Athletic Association


The No. 7 Gators broke open a close game with a combined 13 runs in the sixth and seventh innings to clinch a series victory over Samford with an 18-2 win at Florida Ballpark / McKethan Field Saturday evening.

Florida brought three runs across in the first inning via a leadoff double by third-year sophomore outfielder Jacob Young, a fielder’s choice by second-year freshman catcher Nathan Hickey, an RBI single by fourth-year utility player Jordan Butler, and a two-out RBI single by freshman catcher Mac Guscette.

The double by Young extended his hitting streak to 25 games, eclipsing Jonathan India (2018) for the longest run of the Kevin O’Sullivan era. Young will now try and chase down Tim Olson’s 21-year-old record of 29 games.

Fourth-year junior Jack Leftwich held Samford scoreless and without a hit until a leadoff home run in the top of the fifth inning. The Gators answered with a two-out triple by Hickey, who scored on the following play via a throwing error. Leftwich gave up another home run and exited with two outs in the sixth inning but still collected his first win of the season, as he yielded just two runs and two hits.

The Gators’ five-run sixth inning was a product of three walks, an RBI single by freshman infielder Jordan Carrion, and the first grand slam in Florida Ballpark history by Hickey. Florida’s eight-run seventh inning featured four walks, two hit batters, four RBI singles, and a sacrifice fly.

Carrion, Hickey, and Young all finished with two hits apiece, as did third-year sophomore infielder Kris Armstrong, who pinch hit and had RBI singles in both the seventh and eighth innings. Carrion also finished the game on the mound, throwing a perfect inning of relief and striking out two.

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Hickey. There were plenty of offensive choices here, but Hickey had the timeliest hits. His two-out triple helped the Gators get back a run in the fifth, and his grand slam in the sixth broke the game open. Hickey’s six RBI were also the most by a Gators hitter since Austin Langworthy racked up six against Florida Atlantic on April 23, 2019.

STANDOUT STAT: 18 – Florida’s highest run total in a game since its 20-7 victory over Florida State on March 12, 2019.


On Jack Leftwich’s performance…
“Stuff quite isn’t as crisp as it was in the preseason. Fastball doesn’t quite have the same action. Slider, some innings it’s really sharp, like it was 85-86 in the first, then 81-82 in the second. We’re going to look at some video tomorrow and Monday and see if there’s anything he’s doing a little bit differently. But he battled and commanded the ball for the most part. Had a couple walks. But it’s early. Usually the second start is not as crisp as the first one because the arm doesn’t rebound quite as well, not to make excuses for him. I’m really anxious to see him get back to where he was preseason, because his stuff was really electric preseason.”

On the youth in the lineup tonight and the wide array of contributors Saturday…
“I thought we played really well. Started four freshmen in the 6-7-8-9 hole, and they all played really well. Three of the four got hits… Colby Halter got a couple walks. Their at-bats have been good. I’m really pleased with how those guys have settled in and how they’ve played. Kris Armstrong came off the bench and gave us a couple hits. We got a lot of contributions from a lot of different people tonight. Good to get David Luethje out there. Christian Scott continues to do his job. We threw Jordan [Carrion] out there in the ninth to see if we can add a little depth as we go along here… he pitched in high school and has thrown a couple pens in travel ball and that type of thing.”

UP NEXT: Florida looks to sweep Samford Sunday, as second-year freshman Hunter Barco takes the hill. First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m., with ESPN 98.1FM/850AM WRUF providing radio coverage.