In a Sunday afternoon victory, the Florida Gators secured a sweep against USF in the weekend series. A home run from freshman catcher Nathan Hickey boosted the Gators 2-1 over the Bulls in the bottom of the eighth inning on Sunday afternoon.
The Gators remain the only team in Division I baseball that is undefeated after 16 games into the season.
Fresh Faces on the Mound:
Freshman left-handed pitcher Hunter Barco dealt from the bump all afternoon. The southpaw put together six innings and gave up just one run, two hits and allowed two walks. Plus, he logged seven strikeouts. Barco has secured his spot in the weekend lineup as the Sunday guy and on the season has only allowed three runs in five appearances.
Head Coach Kevin O’Sullivan praised his freshman pitcher, claiming it was Barco’s best outing of the season so far.
“He pitched like a veteran, he made big pitches when he needed to,” he said.
O’Sullivan was especially happy with the command of his slider and felt that he matched USF starter Carson Ragsdale pitch for pitch.
Sophomore Christian Scott came in relief, pitching back-to-back scoreless innings and picked up his second win this season. Ben Specht followed to close the game in the ninth putting together a clean frame as South Florida lingered, only down by one in the ninth. Specht acquired his third save of the season.
Pop at the Plate:
Catcher Nathan Hickey stole the show, hitting the game-winning run in the bottom of the eighth. The home-run was his fourth in as many games. The freshman has been a recent surprise at the plate. Friday night starter and sophomore Cal Greenfield is the team’s first-team pitcher, but Hickey is the main catcher for Saturday pitcher Jack Leftwich. The surprise in production for the freshman has been jokingly attributed to his frequent eating habits at a local Gainesville burger joint, Relish. In the last four games, he has put together four home runs, six RBIs, five runs, and three walks.
Another Gator hitter extended his record on Sunday too. Outfielder Jacob Young singled with two outs in the bottom of the fourth to bring his hitting streak to 17 games. This record for Jacob Young extends his hitting streak to 17 games in a row. Currently, he is now tied with Tampa Bay Ray’s catcher and former Gator Mike Zunino for second-longest hitting streak under Kevin O’Sullivan.
“He plays really hard, only knows one gear,” O’Sullivan said when describing Young.
The Gators have a busy week approaching, hosting Florida State in the Sunshine Showdown on Tuesday at McKethan Stadium at 6:30 p.m. Looking ahead to the weekend, SEC play begins with a home series against Georgia.