The Florida Gators avoided a sweep by the Tennessee Volunteers on Sunday in a 7-6 victory at Lindsey Nelson Stadium. Sunday’s win marks the Gators’ first conference road win of the season after dropping five out of the last six SEC matchups on the road. A rally punctuated by a three-run home-run into the wind by pinch hitter Kris Armstrong lifted Florida over the Vols.
From the Mound
Sunday starter Hunter Barco logged four innings pitched with six strikeouts but allowed four runs. The lefty was replaced briefly by LHP Ryan Cabarcas. However, it was RHP Christian Scott who came in to steal the show in the bottom of the fifth. The right-handed sophomore pitched with a purpose, logging four and two-thirds innings pitched in relief. Scott only allowed one hit, zero runs and picked up six strikeouts and the win for the Gators
“Christian Scott was outstanding on the mound,” Head Coach Kevin O’Sullivan said of his reliever. “It wasn’t exactly how we drew it up to have him pitch, but he gave us everything he had for us and he needed to.”
Scott was lights out in the eighth and ninth innings from the mound, holding the Vols at bay.
“Obviously getting that last out in the ninth was big for him and moving forward hopefully his confidence will be at another level,” O’Sullivan said.
Hits Where it Counts
Hits, where it counted in Sunday’s game, made the difference in comparison to the two close losses in consecutive games against the Volunteers.
“The bottom line is our plan was to win all three ballgames, a few pitches got away from us yesterday and put us in a tough spot but though the first five I think that’s the best we’ve played all year long and we took that into today and showed a lot of resiliency,” O’Sullivan said. Hopefully, we can learn from this and move forward.”
Captain and leadoff man Jacob Young started things off with a leadoff double. However, neither team would strike the scoreboard in the first inning. Florida added one run in the top of the second with a double from true freshman Colby Halter to score first baseman Jordan Butler who had previously doubled as well.
“Colby has been giving us some really good at bats,” O’Sullivan said. “These young players playing on the road for the first time in the league it is a learning experience and sometimes their swings get a little bit big and the game speeds up on them” “but today i thought some of the freshman really settled in.”
Tennessee responded equally with one run of their own in the bottom of the frame. This trend continued all game, as it seemed the Gators were obligated to give up runs following scoring them. Florida added two more runs in the fourth with a two-run home-run from Young for a two-run lead. The lead was short-lived, as Tennessee followed up with three of their own runs in the bottom of the fourth. The Vols continued their hitting spree in the bottom of the fifth with a two-run home-run from catcher Connor Pavolony to put them ahead, 6-3.
Gators Keep Fighting
Florida began their slow rally in the seventh, adding one run with an RBI from designated hitter Kirby McMullen to close the lead to only two. Pinch hitter Kris Armstrong put the exclamation point on the rally in the top of the eighth. Armstrong launched a rocket over the fence and into the wind to put the Gators back in front and ultimately in possession of the win.
Florida now improves to 6-6 in conference play after Sunday’s win.
“This league is not easy, it is difficult to navigate for 30 games,” O’Sullivan said. “Today had a lot of significance, we wanted to come back today .500.”
The Gators will welcome in in-state rival Florida State on Tuesday in their first appearance at the Florida Ballpark. Following the mid-week matchup, Missouri comes to town for a three-game conference series.