In an impressive road performance, No.7 Kentucky (38-16, 19-9 SEC) came into Gainesville and beatdown No.5 Florida (38-15, 19-9) by a score of 12-4. The win moves the Wildcats into a tie atop the SEC East and creates a three-way tie atop the conference after LSU’s win over Mississippi State.
After tonight's results, #Gators sit in a three-way tie for first with Kentucky and LSU at 19-9 in the SEC.
Big pair of games coming up.
— Gators Baseball (@GatorsBB) May 19, 2017
“Sometimes you just got to credit the other team,” Gators head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said after the game. “They just played really good tonight. I don’t want to take away anything away from them. They just beat us. It’s as simple as that.”
Kentucky teed-off on Alex Faedo, handing him his second loss of the season as he drops to 7-2. Sam Hjelle moved into a tie with Florida’s Jackson Kowar atop the SEC wins category after improving to a 9-2 record. Hjelle settled down after a tough first two innings, finishing the day with a statline of 5.2 innings pitched while giving up three runs, five hits, and recording five strikeouts.
The night actually started out well for the Gators.
They pounced out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first. A bases loaded opportunity led to an Austin Langworthy sacrifice fly that scored the first run of the game. In the next at bat, Jonathan India continued his hot return from injury, ripping an RBI single to center field that scored J.J. Schwarz from second base.
Florida extended the lead to 3-0 in the second inning. A Dalton Guthrie groundout scored Mark Kolozsvary to give the Gators the three run lead. It seemed like they would add to it after Nelson Maldonado walked to load the bases for the second straight inning, but Langworthy grounded out to end the inning. It was a common theme for Florida as they stranded 13 baserunners on the night, with the inability to get hits with runners in scoring position coming back to haunt them.
Wildcats Tee-Off on Faedo
The Gator lead did not last long.
The Wildcats, featuring the most potent offense in the SEC, forced Faedo to give up a career-high 13 hits. Overall, the Gators gave up a season-high 20 hits as Kentucky consistently produced at the plate. It only took one of those hits to give them the lead.
After a two-out rally to load the bases in the top of the fourth, Tristan Pompey fought off a few pitches before crushing a momentum-shifting grand slam to right field. The small section of Kentucky fans that made the trip to Gainesville went wild, as did the Wildcat players, and just like that, they had a 4-3 lead.
GRAND SLAM in Gainesville!!!!
With one swing, Tristan Pompey puts @UKBaseball up 4-3: https://t.co/0bAYkoufRt pic.twitter.com/yRohHhHcud
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) May 19, 2017
“We’ve just got to close out innings,” O’Sullivan said. “With two outs, we’ve just got to close them out.”
Kentucky tacked on a run in the fifth via a Troy Squires RBI single, and then two more runs in the sixth on a two-RBI single to center from Evan White. That gave Kentucky a 7-3 lead.
That would mark the end of Faedo’s tough day, as he gave up a career high in hits and a season-high in earned runs.
And that will do it for Faedo, as Nick Horvath comes to replace him.
Faedo's day: 5.1 IP, career-high 13 hits, 7 ER, 1 BB, 5 K's
— Jonathan Acosta (@jonacosta_10) May 19, 2017
Wildcats Continue Scoring
The runs didn’t stop there for the Wildcats.
They added three more in the seventh, before a moonshot of a solo-homer from Riley Mahan gave the Cats a 12-3 in the top of the eighth inning. Florida added a consolation run in the ninth, but Kentucky comfortably won the game by a final score of 12-4.
After going down 3-0, Kentucky scored in each inning from the fourth to the eighth and ripped off 12 unanswered runs to dominate the Gators. One win out of the next two for Kentucky, and they will win the division. Florida will still win the division and the conference if they win the remaining two games in the series. Also a possibility, the Gators can clinch the SEC with a win and an LSU loss on Friday night.
“We’ve just got to flush it, come back tomorrow, and play a little bit better tomorrow,” O’Sullivan said. “Simple as that.”
Florida will look to bounce back Friday night with Brady Singer on the mound for the Gators and Zach Logue starting for Kentucky. First pitch is at 7 p.m.