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UF Baseball: No. 5 Florida Opens SEC Play with 13-4 Win

Courtesy of University Athletic Association

BY SKIP POWERS

Gators throttle the Aggies in the conference opener

For the first time in 662 days, Southeastern Conference baseball was played. In the opener for the league, the No. 5-ranked Florida baseball team downed Texas A&M, 13-4, Thursday evening at Florida Ballpark/McKethan Field.

The 13 runs were the most scored in an SEC opener by the Gators since a 24-5 victory against Ole Miss in 2002. The 16 hits for UF were a season-high, led by a 4-for-5 night from freshman catcher Mac Guscette.

Despite not playing an SEC game since 2019, it didn’t take long for Florida (14-5) to jump on a conference opponent. The Gators loaded the bases with no outs in the third and scored three in the frame to take the early lead. Kirby McMullen provided the punch in the inning with a two-run single to left.

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Florida added six runs on five hits in the fourth. After a Guscette double, Colby Halter belted a two-run home run to right. Jud Fabian scored on a bases-loaded wild pitch and then Nathan Hickey scored on a Jordan Butler sac-fly. Josh Rivera and Guscette concluded the scoring in the frame with RBI singles.

Fabian supplied the big hit in the four-run sixth inning as he crushed his team-best seventh home run of the season, clearing the wall in right-center for a three-run blast to hand the Gators a 13-4 lead.

Fourth-year junior Tommy Mace equaled a career-high with 11 strikeouts to improve to 4-0 on the season. The right-hander allowed four runs – two earned on six hits in seven innings.

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Guscette, In his first career conference game, the backstop posted career-highs in nearly every category at the plate. The Nokomis, Fla., native scored two runs and added an RBI on his four-hit night.

STANDOUT STAT: 13 – The 13 runs were the most scored by a Florida team in an SEC opener since 2002. The Gators have now scored 10 or more runs five times this season, and the 16 hits were a season high and marked the 13th double-digit hit performance of the season.

FROM COACH KEVIN O’SULLIVAN

On Tommy Mace…
“It’s one game of 30, but certainly Tommy was really sharp tonight. His pen, I could tell on Monday, was really sharp. He was focused on what he needed to do and executed a ton of pitches tonight. Set the tone for us. I’m really proud of the way he pitched because, obviously, coming off last week, he wasn’t as sharp. He was determined and obviously did exactly what we needed him to do. I think the biggest thing is number one, set the tone and number two, you only have so many bullets in the bullpen. It’s not ideal to use (Franco) Aleman and (Christian) Scott in the same game if they have to get length because that limits your bullpen the next day. Tommy did exactly what we needed him to do.”

On Mac Guscette…
“He had a great game, he really did. There’s a reason why he was in the lineup tonight. Felt good about where he was at and definitely thought he could handle it. You look at Colby Halter too, I think they had six hits combined. Obviously, you get that kind of production at the bottom half of your order, you have a chance to have a good offensive team.”

NEXT TIME OUT: The two teams will return to Florida Ballpark tomorrow for game two of the series. First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. and can be streamed on SEC Network+.