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UF Baseball: Young’s Walk-Off Hit Seals Sweep for No. 7 Gators

Jacob Young had a career-high four hits, the last of which was the game-winning single.

Courtesy of University Athletic Association

BY ZACH DIRLAM

The No. 7 Gators led by as many as four runs, trailed by two, regained a one-run lead, lost it on a single pitch, but rebounded once more and walked off a series sweep of Samford with a 10-9 victory at Florida Ballpark / McKethan Field Sunday afternoon.

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Third-year sophomore outfielder Jacob Young delivered the walk-off hit with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning. It was Young’s fourth hit in five at-bats Sunday, as the Ponte Vedra, Fla., notched the first four-hit outing of his career, scored a run, registered two RBI, and drew a walk.

Florida trailed 2-0 in the bottom of the first and only needed its first two batters to tie the game. Young led off with a single to left center, and third-year sophomore outfielder Jud Fabian took a 3-2 pitch deep to left field for a game-tying home run. The Gators brought the go-ahead run across via a one-out double by fourth-year junior utility player Jordan Butler, a Samford throwing error, and a Samford balk.

A lead-off walk in the bottom of the second by freshman infielder Colby Halter turned into a run when Young doubled to left center. Halter drove in two runs of his own the following inning, after freshman outfielder Sterlin Thompson drew a two-out walk and third-year sophomore infielder Kris Armstrong doubled.

A solo home run in the fifth and a five-run sixth inning turned the game in Samford’s favor, but Florida put together a rally in the eighth. Singles by Armstrong, Halter, and freshman infielder Jordan Carrion, whose base hit was of the infield variety, set the table for Young. It would be the only time Young did not reach base Sunday. Fabian picked him up the next at-bat with a game-tying single to center. A ground-out by second-year freshman catcher Nathan Hickey put the Gators in front, 9-8.

Yet another Samford home run tied the game in the ninth, and the Gators had the tying run 90 feet away with nobody out after a throwing error, balk, and passed ball. A pair of strikeouts and intentional walk of Halter brought Carrion to the plate. Carrion battled for a six-pitch walk, which brought Young to the plate.

Young lined the first pitch into left center for the game-winning hit.

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Young. Not only did he deliver the game-winning hit, Young’s single to open the bottom of the first extended his hitting streak to 26 games, tying Brad Wilkerson (1997) for the second-longest hitting streak in school history.

His four hits were a career high and marked the first four-hit game by a Gators hitter since Brady Smith’s four-hit outing at LSU on April 18, 2019.

Young’s fourth hit also gave the Gators their first walk-off victory since last year’s extra-innings win over Jacksonville (Feb. 19, 2020).

STANDOUT STAT: 14 – hits for Florida Sunday. The Gators have 10-plus hits in each of their first eight games this season, marking the first time since an eight-game stretch from April 21-May 3, 2009 that they had double-digit hits in eight consecutive games.

Florida has 99 hits through eight games this season, giving it an average of 12.4 hits per game.

FROM COACH KEVIN O’SULLIVAN

On Hunter Barco’s performance…
“I know the line says he gave up about five earned runs, but he certainly pitched way better than what his line said. I thought he took a tremendous step forward today. His control was really good. Other than the lead-off walk to start the game and the two-run homer he gave up, I thought he pitched really, really well. His line is not indicative of how he threw.”

On team’s performance…
“We were helped by some errors this weekend. Jacob [Young] continues to swing the bat really well. Four for five today, and used the bunt game a little bit. We got some production from the bottom half of the lineup again. We’ve got to get the bullpen figured out. That’s the bottom line.

“Started with Franco [Aleman]. It’s a little bit of a tough situation to come into – first and third, nobody out – but you could tell the body language was a little bit different today. He was a little frantic and quick last week, and he was the exact opposite today. Slower tempo, had a little bit of a low elbow. He just has not looked like this in the preseason, and we will get him going. Chase [Centala] did not look quite as sharp. His fastball didn’t have quite the same life, and his slider was a little rolly today. I thought Brandon [Sproat] came in and did a nice job. Credit Samford’s three-hole hitter who hit the home run the other way. But even his breaking ball wasn’t quite the same today. We’re going to have to get that part of our game fixed. And we will. We just have to move forward, and these guys have to get going. Simple as that.”

UP NEXT: Florida continues its 13-game home stand Wednesday evening against Florida Atlantic. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m., with SECNetwork+ streaming live, and ESPN 98.1FM/850AM WRUF providing radio coverage.