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Saturday, June 12, 2021

Gators’ offense powers through Stetson

Following a statement series win over Vanderbilt, No. 10 Florida held off the Stetson Hatters for the third time this season Tuesday night

Nathan Hickey swings at a pitch against Jacksonville on March 14. Hickey knocked in a team-leading 45th RBI of 2021 on Tuesday night.
Nathan Hickey swings at a pitch against Jacksonville on March 14. Hickey knocked in a team-leading 45th RBI of 2021 on Tuesday night.

With two outs and the tying run on deck in the top of the ninth, Florida right-hander Christian Scott stepped on the rubber to face Stetson right fielder Eric Foggo. 

The sophomore reliever worked his way into a full count before he forced a fly out to right field and clinched a 9-6 victory for the Gators Tuesday.

The win marked Florida’s third of the season against Stetson; the Gators beat the Hatters 10-7 on March 10 before they prevailed 7-6 on April 6.

Florida left-hander Timmy Manning started on the hill and immediately surrendered a leadoff homer to Stetson center fielder Andrew MacNeil. First baseman Hernen Sardinas gave the Hatters an early 2-0 advantage on a two-out solo shot.

Following a single hit in the bottom of the first, the Gators bounced back in the second inning with three runs. Third baseman Kirby McMullen drew a leadoff walk and scored on right fielder Sterlin Thompson’s double off the right-center wall. 

With two outs, second baseman Colby Halter drove in Thompson on a double which deflected off MacNeil’s glove in deep center field. Halter scored to give Florida its first lead on left fielder Jacob Young’s RBI single into left-center.

Manning exited the game in the top of the third after he conceded a pair of walks. Southpaw Trey Van Der Weide entered the game in a bases-loaded jam. The graduate student struck out the first batter he faced before an RBI single tied the game. The baserunner from second tested Young, whose throw to the plate reached catcher Nathan Hickey in time to end the inning.

A trio of walks loaded the bases for Florida in the bottom of the fourth before designated hitter Kris Armstrong drove in the go-ahead run on a sacrifice fly into left field.

An inning later, the Gators broke the scoring open with four runs on five hits. Thompson led off with a single and scored on shortstop Josh Rivera’s single to left field. Hickey laced a two-run double — adding to his team-high 45 RBIs this season — into right-center. Center fielder Jud Fabian’s two-out RBI double extended the lead to 8-3.

Sophomore right-hander David Luethje relieved Van Der Weide — who earned his second win of the season — in the top of the sixth and dealt two scoreless innings. Luethje turned the ball over to freshman left-hander Ryan Cabarcas in the top of the eighth, who loaded the bases without recording an out before the Gators called upon sophomore Christian Scott. 

Scott surrendered an RBI single, but he escaped the jam to maintain a four-run advantage. Florida added an insurance run before the ninth inning via a towering solo shot from Armstrong — his third home run in the past four games — over the fence and onto the right-field lawn. 

Scott returned to the rubber and surrendered a pair of solo home runs in the top of the final inning to MacNeil and Sardinas, the same two Hatters who went yard to begin the game. The long balls cut the deficit to 9-6 until Scott settled in and secured his second save this year.

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The Gators head north to Lexington ahead of a three-game road series against Kentucky. The series opener is scheduled for Thursday at 7 p.m. and will air on the 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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