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UF Baseball: No. 15 Florida Takes Series at Auburn

Courtesy of University Athletic Association

BY DENVER PARLER

Florida earned the series win with a split in Sunday’s doubleheader

No. 15 Florida baseball picked up a road series win on Sunday, splitting a pair of seven-inning games against Auburn at Plainsman Park. Florida (28-12, 11-7 SEC) won Friday evening’s opener before Sunday’s split to claim the series at Auburn (17-20, 3-15 SEC).

HOW IT HAPPENED – GAME 1
A six-run fifth by Auburn proved too much for Florida to overcome, and the Tigers took the front end of the doubleheader by a 10-8 score.

Auburn jumped ahead 2-0 in the bottom of the first off Tyler Miller’s home run to right field.

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The Gators used a four-run third to move in front. Josh Rivera halved the Auburn lead with a solo shot to open the frame. Jordan Carrion and Jacob Young both reached base, and Nathan Hickey’s hit through the right side brought Carrion home to tie the game. Jud Fabian followed with an RBI double for the Florida lead, and Kris Armstrong’s sacrifice fly to center extended the Gators’ lead to 4-2.

UF tacked on two more in the fourth, with Rivera again serving as the catalyst, knocking a leadoff double into the right field corner. Rivera moved to third as Young reached on an error, and a Hickey groundout plated Rivera. Kirby McMullen doubled to drive Young across and push UF’s lead to four, 6-2.

Auburn moved back in front with a six-run fifth to go ahead, 10-6, as Cam Hill’s two-run home run provided the go-ahead runs. The Gators scored two in the seventh on RBIs by Sterlin Thompson and Kris Armstrong to bring the potential tying run to the plate, but the Tigers were able to close it out.

HOW IT HAPPENED – GAME 2
Freshman left-hander Hunter Barco struck out three and allowed three runs over 5.1 innings to earn the win as Florida topped Auburn, 6-4, in the series rubber match.

Auburn struck first again, scoring one in the bottom of the first, but Colby Halter’s diving stop at third with runners on second and third limited the damage.

Hickey launched the first pitch of the fourth inning over the right-field wall, and after a McMullen single, Jud Fabian put the Gators ahead, 3-1. The Tigers, however, answered back with two runs of their own in the bottom of the fourth to square things at 3-3.

Florida edged ahead when McMullen scored from third on a throwing error as the Auburn pitcher attempted to throw home on a Thompson groundball. The Gators then added two insurance runs in the seventh, as Halter led off with a double and Rivera added a base hit to set the table for Young and Hickey to knock in an RBI single each.

Trey Van Der Weide picked up the save, retiring all three batters he faced after entering with two men aboard and none out in the bottom of the seventh.

NOTABLES

  *   Florida has recorded double-digit hits in seven of the past eight games.
  *   Fabian had a multi-home run series, hitting one in the second game Sunday after having one Friday. His 14 homers lead the team.
  *   Rivera recorded his first SEC game with multiple extra-base hits and his third overall this season, recording a home run and a double in the first game.
  *   Prior to Sunday’s appearance, Leftwich had thrown nine consecutive no-hit innings over his previous three appearances.

FROM COACH KEVIN O’SULLIVAN
On winning the road series…
“They’d lost eight one-run games in the league coming into this weekend, and we knew they were strong offensively. They went to Arkansas a few weekends ago and played really well out there. We were fortunate today. Obviously, we didn’t pitch as well as we’d like to in the first game, but I thought we swung the bat really well all weekend.”

On the team’s pitching…
“I thought Hunter (Barco) kept us in the ballgame. A couple things, pitching-wise. I know I sound like a broken record, but we have got to figure out a way to not give up runs after we score. … Going back to the first game, we walked a nine-hole hitter, and we’ve done that numerous times this year, and then we didn’t execute an 0-2 pitch with runners in scoring position. Those types of things, we’ve got to clean up. I know we keep talking about it, but the rebound runs after we score, it’s really hard to keep momentum in our dugout, and we’re spending way too much time on the bottom half of the order.

UP NEXT: Florida hosts Vanderbilt next weekend, with games scheduled Friday at 7 p.m. (ESPNU), Saturday at 6:30 p.m. (SEC Network+) and Sunday at 3 p.m. (ESPN2). The radio call will be on 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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