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Thursday, December 07, 2023

Gators sink Pirates in doubleheader, take third series of the season

Florida baseball kept it rolling by scoring a combined 27 runs over two wins against Seton Hall

Junior outfielder Jud Fabian rounds third after a home run against Jacksonville. Florida beat Seton Hall in back-to-back games Saturday.
Junior outfielder Jud Fabian rounds third after a home run against Jacksonville. Florida beat Seton Hall in back-to-back games Saturday.

Florida baseball navigated yesterday’s storm with ease in a doubleheader win over the Seton Hall Pirates Saturday.

Play began at 12:30 p.m. Saturday and did not end until about 8 p.m. following the postponement of Friday’s game due to rain.

Seton Hall’s pitching is struggling this season and they are winless on the year. Florida took full advantage, sailing to a series victory in one day. 

The Gators bombarded the Pirates in the first game of the day, winning 16-4 Saturday afternoon.

It was the big names that got the job done for Florida in game one.  Junior outfielder Jud Fabian, first baseman Kendrick Calilao, sophomore Sterlin Thompson and outfielder Wyatt Langford  combined for nine hits and 12 runs batted in.

Langford wasted no time in the first inning, driving in Thompson with an RBI-triple to open the scoring.

Fabian added a two-run home run in the third to open up a three-run lead. The blast drove in his brother, Deric, and was Jud’s fifth of the season. A quarter of the way through the year, Jud is already on pace to match his 20 home runs from last season.

The Gators blew the game open in the fifth inning, bringing five runs across to extend the lead to eight. Junior Kris Armstrong led off with a double and is slowly getting his offense back on track following a rough start.

Halter and Jud then took back-to-back walks with one out and Thompson drove in Armstrong and Halter with a single the other way. Then it was Langford’s time to shine again as he blasted a three-run homer to center, making the score ugly.

Things only got worse for the Pirates as the Gators added six more the next inning, including five with two outs. 

It was small ball that did the trick for Florida, as all six runs in the inning were scored on singles. UF also drew three walks and took a hit by pitch in the frame. 

The Gators would add two more in the eighth en route to an easy victory. 

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Southpaw Hunter Barco got the ball to start game one for Florida and was fantastic. He allowed just two hits in 6.1 innings and did not allow a run. He punched out six Pirates and handed out zero free passes.

Barco’s dominance lowers his ERA to 1.52 on the season, and he now has 24 strikeouts in 23.1 innings across four starts. 

Game two was a similar story as the Gators pillaged Seton Hall11-9.

Florida fell behind early and starting pitcher Brandon Sproat got off to a rough start, allowing a two-run triple in the first inning. The Gators got one back before the Pirates added another in the third to make the lead 3-1.

However, Sproat settled in and did not allow a run the rest of his start. In six innings, Sproat allowed three runs on six hits and a walk while striking out five. Despite the rough start, Sproat’s ERA is down to 2.11 on the year with 26 strikeouts in 21.1 innings pitched.

Once Sproat settled in, the Gator offense continued to roll starting with a four-run third inning to make it 5-3.

Seton Hall’s pitching struggled all day long and was really on display in the third inning. The Gators scored three of their runs via a wild pitch, a hit by pitch and a walk. In the third, three Gators walked, two got hit by a pitch and two hit singles.

However, it was the longball that blew the game open in the fifth inning for Florida. 

Jud went deep again, this time to right, for his sixth homer of the season. It was an absolute blast that was helped by a strong wind pushing toward the outfield wall..

Jud’s average is up to .304 on the year and he has just 13 strikeouts as he tries to work his way back into the first round of the MLB Draft.

Following Saturday night’s outburst Florida has now scored 25 runs in the fifth inning this season, nine more than the next best team in the country. The offense continues to dominate, doing most of its damage in the middle part of games.

Suddenly, things got interesting out of nowhere as the Pirates exploded for six runs in the ninth inning. 

Freshman Carsten Finnvold struggled mightily in relief, allowing six runs on three hits and two walks. He was pulled following a grand slam by right fielder Oscar Murray that cut the lead to just two. 

Unfortunately for Florida, they had to use Brandon Neely in a blowout, but he shut the door with ease and sealed the victory. 

The two wins move Florida to 13-3 on the season and marks its third weekend series victory of the season. The finale with Seton Hall is Sunday at noon and redshirt sophomore Nick Pogue will make his first weekend start this season. 

Contact Ethan Budowsky at Follow him on Twitter @ethanbudowsky.

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