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UF Baseball: No. 5 Florida Takes Series with 3-1 Win

Courtesy of University Athletic Association

BY SKIP POWERS

Gators take down the Aggies in a pitching duel Friday night

The No. 5-ranked Florida baseball team used stellar pitching, timely hitting, and some flashy leather to down Texas A&M, 3-1, Friday evening at Florida Ballpark/McKethan Field. The series victory marks the first of the Southeastern Conference season and improves the Gators’ record to 15-5 overall.

Both teams cruised through three innings, but with two outs in the fourth, freshman Sterlin Thompson drove home fourth-year junior Jordan Butler with a single to left. Butler started the two-out rally with a double off the wall in left-center for his sixth on the season.

After the Aggies tied the game in the sixth, third-year sophomore centerfielder Jud Fabian made sure to keep it that way as he robbed Zane Schmidt of a go-ahead home run in the seventh, making a leaping grab over the wall in right-center.

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Fabian’s flashing the leather carried over into the bottom of the frame as the Gators scored two runs to take a 3-1 lead. Coming off a four-hit night in the opener, freshman Mac Guscette singled home second-year freshman Josh Rivera. Freshman Colby Halter then came in to score when Fabian grounded into a double play.

Fourth-year junior pitcher Jack Leftwich (4-0) gave the Gators seven strong, allowing one run on three hits while striking out six. Third-year sophomore Christian Scott closed the door for his first save on the season, striking out two in two innings of relief.

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: The three freshmen. The freshmen trio of Sterlin Thompson, Colby Halter, and Mac Guscette combined for five of the Gators’ eight hits on the night. Thompson and Guscette drove in two runs, while Guscette and Halter collected two hits apiece.

STANDOUT STAT: 3 – Jack Leftwich held the Aggies to just three hits, marking his second straight performance of allowing three or less hits. Over his last two starts, the right-hander has only allowed five hits in 13 innings.  Leftwich lowers his ERA to 1.71 and has held opponents to just a .144 batting average in his five starts this season.

FROM COACH KEVIN O’SULLIVAN

On clinching the first SEC series…
“Like I said last night, it’s really hard to win a series against anybody in the league, especially a really good club like Texas A&M. It was a well-pitched game on both sides. Jack (Leftwich) matched their starter pitch-for-pitch and was really good and really efficient. Obviously, Christian (Scott) was really good at the end. Jud (Fabian’s) play in right-center field was phenomenal. It kind of gave us some momentum and may have changed the momentum of the game, to be honest with you. All-in-all, defensively we were good. It was just a really good college baseball game, and we were just fortunate to put some swings together. Usually it comes down to a leadoff walk here or there, and that’s kind of what happened.”

On Jack Leftwich…
“I think he was good last week, too. The last few starts have been really good. There’s a little bit of competitiveness with him and Tommy (Mace), and I think one feeds off the other. I think Tommy set the tone for the weekend, and obviously, Jack took the baton and was really good tonight. He needed to be because their starter was really good as well.”

NEXT TIME OUT: The two teams will close out the series tomorrow at 1 p.m. The series finale will be streamed on SEC Network+ and can be heard on ESPN 98.1FM/850AM WRUF.

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