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Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Armstrong pinch-hit home run lifts Gators to first SEC road win

Sophomore Kris Armstrong belted a go-ahead three-run shot in the top of the eighth inning en route to a 7-6 Florida victory

Florida second baseman Josh Rivera led off the fourth with a double. Photo from UF-Jacksonville game March 13.
Florida second baseman Josh Rivera led off the fourth with a double. Photo from UF-Jacksonville game March 13.

Down two runs in the top of the eighth, Florida sophomore Kris Armstrong dug into the left-handed batter’s box to pinch hit for shortstop Jordan Carrion with one out and runners in scoring position. 

Armstrong turned on an inside fastball from Tennessee right-hander Sean Hunley as right fielder Jordan Beck watched the ball sail over the wall and into the parking lot to the silence of the home crowd.

After dropping the first two games of the series, Florida right-hander Christian Scott blanked the Volunteers across the final two innings to secure a 7-6 win in Knoxville Sunday afternoon. 

The Gators jumped out to an early 1-0 lead after they hit a pair of doubles in the top of the second. First baseman Jordan Butler doubled to right field before third baseman Colby Halter bounced a ground-rule double over the right-field wall.

In the bottom half, the Vols erased Florida’s advantage after designated hitter Liam Spence drew a bases-loaded walk off left-hander Hunter Barco. Barco struggled to locate his pitches from the start; the freshman walked a season-high five batters in only four innings.

After each team stranded two runners in the third inning, Florida second baseman Josh Rivera led off the fourth with a double before left fielder Jacob Young drove a two-run home run into the seats in left field. 

Young’s second dinger this season gave the Gators a 3-1 advantage until a pair of fielding errors in the bottom half granted Tennessee its first lead. Volunteer shortstop Logan Steenstra hit a double that turned into a triple on Florida right fielder Sterlin Thompson’s error. 

After a wild Barco pitch yielded a run, center fielder Jud Fabian misjudged a routine single that turned into a RBI triple. A fielder’s choice groundout allowed another Tennessee run to score, and the Gators trailed 4-3 entering the fifth frame.

Florida southpaw Ryan Cabarcas came in for relief in the bottom of the fifth and allowed a walk before Vols catcher Connor Pavolony went yard to extend the lead to 6-3. After giving up a double, Cabarcas exited the game as Scott took the rubber. The 6-foot-4-inch sophomore struck out six batters across 4 ⅔ shutout innings and earned his first win in more than a year.

The Gators managed a run in the top of the sixth after Young drew a hit-by-pitch and scored on designated hitter Kirby McMullen’s groundout.

An inning later, Rivera singled and Halter doubled into the right-center gap, which put two runners aboard for Armstrong’s pinch-hit, three-run bomb.

With two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Florida second baseman Cory Acton made a diving stop on a hard grounder that nearly got through the right side. Acton kept the ball in front of him and got the throw to first base in time to seal Florida’s first road conference victory this year.

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The Gators will return to Florida Ballpark to host No. 17 Florida State Tuesday. First pitch will fly at 7 p.m and will air on the SEC Network.

Contact Griffin Foll at and follow him on Twitter @GriffinFoll

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Griffin Foll

Griffin Foll is a sophomore at UF studying journalism sports and media. He is one of The Alligator's women’s basketball beat writers. Griffin is also a UF softball beat reporter for and contributes weekly articles for ESPN Gainesville.

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