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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Florida Gators drop defensive battle against Arkansas

Razorback pitcher Patrick Wicklander tossed 11 strikeouts and held Florida to one run

Florida's Kendrick Calilao runs down to first base against Jacksonville March 14. Calilao continued his hot play with another home run Thursday, but Florida fell 6-1 to the No. 1 Razorbacks.
Florida's Kendrick Calilao runs down to first base against Jacksonville March 14. Calilao continued his hot play with another home run Thursday, but Florida fell 6-1 to the No. 1 Razorbacks.

Rain poured down from the Arkansas skies on Thursday night, but the Florida Gators fell harder in the end.

From the lead-off batter to the last, the Gators either went down staring at perfectly placed strikes or swinging wildly on dangerous change-ups.

Arkansas pitcher Patrick Wicklander held Florida’s lineup in a chokehold from the first pitch Thursday. In six full innings, the Razorback right-hander only allowed three hits and put up 11 strikeouts in the 6-1 Arkansas victory.

The score stood 3-1 from the fifth to the eighth inning until Arkansas right fielder Cayden Wallace rocked his second homer of the night just beyond the right-field foul post. The three-run knockout punch gave him three hits and four RBIs on the night. 

Gators right-hander Tommy Mace (5-1) suffered his first loss of the year despite eight strikeouts of his own. He gave up three earned runs as well as five hits in 4.2 innings pitched. 

Mace appeared steady enough through the first four innings, with only one run allowed and seven strikeouts. In the fifth inning, however, everything came undone for the junior. 

Right fielder Cayden Wallace started the pitcher’s downfall with his solo home run in the fifth. Mace walked two of his next three batters before exiting, his shortest start since a seven-inning game against Auburn on April 25.

Head coach Kevin O’Sullivan sent out relievers Trey Van Der Weide and Christian Scott to clean up the mess on the mound, but they surrendered four total walks. Van Der Weide initially took over for Mace, but Arkansas catcher Casey Opitz nailed a line drive to left field to bring home baserunner Jacob Nesbit and extend the Razorback lead. Scott allowed two hits and three earned runs.

Not even the arm of Wicklander could extinguish Florida first baseman Kendrick Calilao’s hot streak. The sophomore nailed a fly ball to left field to open the scoring behind enemy lines and put the Gators on top 1-0 in the second inning.

Calilao lapped the bases four times in his last 24 at-bats and tallied eight RBIs within the same time frame.

Left fielder Jacob Young’s 30 game on-base streak came to a conclusion after the sophomore failed to escape the batter’s box successfully in four attempts. 

After the five-run loss, the Gators try to get back in the win column on Friday night in game two of the series. Tune in to the ballgame on SEC Network at 8 p.m. and follow live statistics on FloridaGators.com. 

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Contact Jesse Richardson at jrichardson@alligator.org and follow him on Twitter @JesseRich352

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