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Thursday, May 06, 2021

Florida holds off late Ole Miss comeback to clinch Easter weekend series

The No. 15 Gators defeated the No. 15 Rebels 6-5 Saturday at Florida Ballpark to win their second straight home series

<p>Pitcher Brandon Sproat fires toward home against Jacksonville March 13.</p>

Pitcher Brandon Sproat fires toward home against Jacksonville March 13.

With two outs, Florida lefty Trey Van Der Weid hoped to retire one more batter and maintain a 6-3 lead into the seventh inning stretch. 

But a pair of Ole Miss singles led to catcher Hayden Dunhurt’s bases-clearing triple down the right-field line that cut the deficit to 6-5. With the tying run on third, Florida freshman shortstop Jordan Carrion — who made only four pitching appearances until Saturday —  came in and forced a routine groundout to escape the jam. 

Florida maintained its one-run lead until freshman left-hander Ryan Cabarcas entered the game in the top of the ninth and stranded two baserunners to notch his first career save. 

“[Cabarcas] is a huge piece to our bullpen,” head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “Unfortunately, he was a little banged up for a while.”

After splitting the first two games, No. 15 Florida prevailed 6-5 over No. 3 Ole Miss Saturday to clinch an Easter weekend series win.

“Hopefully this game will jump start us a little bit,” O’Sullivan said. “It was important for us to close the door and change the mojo of those close games.”

The Gators surged to an early 2-0 lead after left fielder Jacob Young scored on a pair of sacrifice flies in the first and third innings. Young drew a leadoff walk in the bottom of the first before third baseman Kirby McMullen poked a sacrifice fly into deep left-center. 

Two innings later, Young led off with a triple to the warning track in center before he jogged home on designated hitter Nathan Hickey’s sac-fly.

With two outs in the bottom of the fourth, Carrion pulled a deep fly ball that carried into the Ole Miss bullpen for a solo shot.

 “Once I hit it, I knew I got it, it was just a matter of it the wind was going to hold it back,” Carrion said. “When it got out, it was just a great feeling.” The freshman Miami native’s first career home run extended Florida’s lead to 3-0.

Florida freshman southpaw Hunter Barco made his seventh start and tossed four scoreless innings until a fifth-inning hiccup. Barco yielded two singles and beamed the third batter, which loaded the bases with no outs. The Gators turned a double-play, but the runner on third scored uncontested to break the shutout. The next Ole Miss batter singled home another run to cut the deficit to 3-2. 

In the bottom half of the inning, Florida quickly regained and improved upon its three-run lead. Young led off with a bunt single and Hickey cranked a two-run bomb out near the scoreboard beyond the right-field wall to make it 5-2. 

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“It was a first-pitch slider and I’ve gotten probably six of them this series” Hickey said. “It stayed up and I was like this one is mine.”

After tripling past the outstretched arms of Ole Miss center fielder TJ McCants, Florida right fielder Sterlin Thompson scored on first baseman Jordan Butler’s single into right.

After Barco conceded a leadoff walk in the top of the sixth, Van Der Weid came in for relief. Following a clutch double play, Van Der Weid surrendered an unearned run on Carrion's throwing error. 

After striking out 18 times in Friday's loss, Florida limited its whiffs Saturday to five — three of which came from catcher Cal Greenfield. 

“[We] bounced back today,” O’Sullivan said. “We did a better job putting the ball in play.”

The Gators will return to Florida Ballpark Tuesday for a non-conference tilt against Stetson. First pitch will fly at 6 p.m. and air on SEC Network+.

Contact Griffin Foll at gfoll@alligator.org 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 ChompTalk.com and contributes weekly articles for ESPN Gainesville.


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