The Gators clung to a one-run advantage over the Tigers entering the final inning of Sunday’s 14-inning doubleheader in front of a socially-distanced crowd at Plainsman Park in Auburn.
With one out in the top of the inning, Florida left fielder Jacob Young and catcher Nathan Hickey poked back-to-back RBI singles through either side of the infield to add a pair of insurance runs.
Right-handers Christian Scott and Jordan Carrion faced a batter each in the bottom of the inning. However, southpaw Trey Van Der Weide took the mound with no outs and the tying run at the plate, but the graduate student delivered an effortless seven-pitch save.
After defeating Auburn in Friday’s series opener, Florida dropped game one 10-8 but prevailed 6-4 in the rubber match to clinch its first SEC road series victory this season.
After going 1-8 at the plate through the first three innings of Sunday’s second game, Florida built a two-run lead in the fourth on a pair of home runs. Hickey drove the first pitch over the right-field wall before Fabian muscled a two-strike changeup over the monstrous left-field wall — his team-leading 14th home run this year.
Designated hitter Kirby McMullen scored in the sixth after an errant throw to the plate from Auburn pitcher Mason Barnett.
While Florida’s bats delivered in the second game, it’s arms faltered.
Left-hander Hunter Barco started the final act of the series and ran into trouble in his first inning. The freshman conceded two walks and a base-hit to load the bases for Auburn, but he minimized the damage and allowed only one run to score.
The Tigers erased Florida’s advantage in the bottom of the fourth when Barco gave up three straight singles before a pair of RBI groundouts.
In this first game of the afternoon, Florida led with right-hander Tommy Mace. The junior surrendered a two-run homer in the opening inning
The Gators doubled Auburn’s first-inning output in the top of the third.
Second baseman Josh Rivera hit a leadoff solo shot — the freshman’s fifth home run — before Hickey and center fielder Jud Fabian drove in a pair of runs to take a 3-2 lead. After a hit-by-pitch loaded the bases, Hickey scored on first baseman Kris Armstrong’s sacrifice fly.
An inning later, Rivera led off again with a double and scored on a groundout before McMullen’s RBI double into left-center stretched the lead to 6-2.
Auburn cut the deficit in half in the bottom of the fourth after third baseman Colby Halter’s fielding error allowed the Tiger’s fourth run to cross home plate.
Mace surrendered a leadoff home run in the fifth before he turned the ball over to junior right-hander Jack Leftwich. The Orlando native struggled out of the gate and allowed a single up the middle before Auburn designated hitter Cam Hill hit a two-run bomb to make it a one-run game.
Leftwich needed five batters to record his first out, and he gave up three consecutive RBI singles. The Tigers now sported an 8-6 advantage entering the final two frames.
Florida sparked a two-out rally in the top of the seventh but fell short in a 10-8 series-evening defeat.
The Gators return to Florida Ballpark Friday as they welcome the Vanderbilt Commodores for a three-game series. First pitch will fly at 7 p.m. and air on ESPNU.
Contact Griffin Foll at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @GriffinFoll
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.