Up by four in the top of the ninth inning, Florida southpaw Trey Van Der Weide surrendered two unearned runs before he stranded Missouri’s tying baserunner with the final out.
Van Der Weide secured his first save this season and completed the Gators’ first series sweep since SEC opening weekend.
After they earned revenge over Florida State Tuesday, the Gators prevailed in Friday’s series opener at Florida Ballpark before they matched a season-high five-game win streak with a pair of two-run victories Saturday.
Florida improves to 9-6 (.600) in conference play and leads the SEC in home wins (23). The Gators maintain a lackluster 2-6 road record, but they have a prime opportunity to bounce back to .500 in this week’s favorable road trip.
They’ll start the week against Jacksonville, whom the Gators defeated in a home series on March 14, before they head north to take on Auburn. The Tigers enter the weekend with a conference-worst 2-13 (.133) record after they were outscored by more than two runs per game.
After the Seminoles teed off Florida right-hander Garrett Milchin in Tallahassee, head coach Kevin O’Sullivan gave Milchin the nod again in Tuesday’s rematch. The redshirt junior struck out a career-high five batters and allowed only one earned run across six frames until right-hander Jack Leftwich took the rubber.
“He (Milchin) did everything we could have asked from him,” O’Sullivan said. “He was probably motivated to get another opportunity to pitch against them.”
Leftwich held Florida State hitless before Kendrick Calilao hit an extra-inning, walk-off homer. Leftwich duplicated Tuesday’s effort against Mizzou Saturday when he retired 11 straight batters to pick up his sixth win this year.
“It was real special for us, and him especially, to go out there and pitch like the Jack Leftwich we know,” freshman infielder Josh Rivera said.
Freshman left-hander Hunter Barco and sophomore right-hander Christian Scott made quality appearances on the mound. Barco started the series finale Saturday and matched a career-high 6.1 innings thrown. The Jacksonville native struck out five batters and earned his sixth win.
At the plate, Florida went 33-98 (.337) against Missouri, a noticeable increase from its .283 season average. The Gators went down on strikes just 10 times in the three-game series, which looks encouraging for a team that averages over eight strikeouts a game.
Sophomore center fielder Jud Fabian went 5-11 against Mizzou with a double in each game. Fabian led off the bottom of the Friday’s second inning with his team-leading 12th home run this season.
But the Ocala native struck out in the series opener and became the second player in the nation to reach 50 strikeouts this season.
Freshman Nathan Hickey went 5-10 and drove in two more runs to reach a team-high 37 RBIs. Senior third baseman Kirby McMullen hit 4-14 with 5 RBIs and his eighth dinger this year.
The Gators look to remain in the win column Tuesday in Jacksonville. They’ll face the Dolphins at 6 p.m. before they head to Auburn in search of their fifth consecutive SEC win Friday.
Contact Griffin Foll at firstname.lastname@example.org 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.