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UF Baseball: No. 5 Florida Earns Series Sweep

Gators third baseman Kirby McMullen, No. 52, is greeted at home by teammates Jordan Butler, Jacob Young, and Nathan Hickey, left to right, after his three-run home run in the third inning Saturday at Florida Ballpark. (Photo: Anissa Dimilta/UAA Communications)
Photo By: Anissa Dimilta

Courtesy of University Athletic Association

BY SKIP POWERS

Florida downs Texas A&M, 8-4

The fifth-ranked Gators won the first game on the 2021 Southeastern Conference baseball schedule when they beat Texas A&M on Thursday night to open a three-game series. On Saturday afternoon at Florida Ballpark/McKethan Field, they capped the SEC’s first sweep of the season with an 8-4 victory over the Aggies.

Florida (16-5, 3-0) pounded 13 hits and got home runs from third baseman Kirby McMullen and center fielder Jud Fabian to send the Aggies (15-7, 0-3) home still winless in conference play. The Gators outscored the Aggies 24-9 in the series.

Gators left-hander Hunter Barco benefited Saturday from Florida’s offensive fireworks, earning his third win of the season. Barco tossed a season-high 96 pitches and limited Texas A&M to three runs (two earned) over six innings. Barco stuck out nine, allowed nine hits, and walked none. After loading the bases and allowing an RBI single to Auston Bost in the top of the seventh, Florida coach Kevin O’Sullivan turned to reliever Franco Aleman.

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Texas A&M trimmed Florida’s lead to 6-3 when Ray Alejo scored on a passed ball, but Aleman prevented further damage by striking out three consecutive Aggies to close the inning. The Gators promptly padded their lead in the bottom of the seventh when Fabian led off with his team-high eighth homer of the season, and freshman catcher Mac Guscette added an RBI single. Meanwhile, Aleman earned his third save by striking out five over three innings.

Florida grabbed an early lead off Aggies starter Jonathan Childress with a run in the first and then a three-run homer by McMullen in the third that put the Gators up 4-0. McMullen finished 2-for-3 with three RBI, and Fabian went 3-for-4.

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Mac Guscette – A freshman catcher from Nokomis, Fla, Guscette had an impressive debut in conference play. He started all three games against the Aggies and went 7-for-11 with a double and three RBI in the series.

STANDOUT STAT: 6 – The Gators’ sweep of Texas A&M, coupled with a three-game sweep of Missouri to close the 2019 regular season, gives them six consecutive SEC regular-season victories. That is the program’s longest SEC regular-season win streak since a seven-game streak in 2018 (two wins over Arkansas, three against Vanderbilt, and two against Tennessee).

FROM COACH KEVIN O’SULLIVAN

On sweeping Texas A&M to open SEC play…
“It feels really good. I’m really proud of the way the guys battled today and the way they bounced back from Tuesday night. That was obviously a really frustrating game. It’s amazing when you are coaching young people how quickly the script can get flipped, so to speak. Last Tuesday feels like three weeks ago, the way they responded with their energy, their focus, the way the starters rebounded. The offense was outstanding all weekend. Every time they scored today, we seemed to answer right back.”

On home runs…
“Jud’s really seeing the ball well right now. Kirby hit the three-run homer into the wind. I didn’t think anybody was going to be able to get a ball out of the yard today.”

NEXT TIME OUT: The Gators do not play a midweek game for the first time this season and return to action on Friday night at 7 in the SEC road opener at South Carolina. The game will be streamed live on SEC Network+ and can be heard on ESPN 98.1FM/850AM WRUF.

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