Same song, second verse, different inning.
No. 2 Florida broke open a tie game with a five-run fifth to race past Arkansas 9-2 Friday night before 6,778 fans at Baum Stadium.
The Gators (32-5, 10-4) sent the Razorbacks (21-14, 4-10) to their seventh straight SEC loss a night after exploding for six tallies in the fourth inning of a scoreless game that ended 12-8 a minute before midnight.
“It’s been that way about every game whether it’s the second, the fourth or the the third - it just seems like there has been a big inning that has given our opponent a big lead and it has been hard to overcome,” Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn said.
The Razorbacks have not had a lead in any of the seven losses, but hope to get a lead early and squeeze out a win in the final of the three-game series on Saturday at 2 p.m.
“Really there is not much to say,” Van Horn said. “It is the same thing. I think tomorrow is a huge game for us. We have to win a game in this series. We got one more shot at it.
“…There is really nothing you can say. Playing a good team, you can’t make mistakes and if you have a chance to score, you have to score and we only did that a couple of times tonight. We need to come out tomorrow and play our best game.”
Michael Bernal launched a solo shot in the bottom of the fourth to tie to 1-1 before Florida opened the floodgates with a five-spot against starter and lose Keaton McKinney and reliever James Teague.
Arkansas outfielder Luke Bonfield, who along with Jake Arledge had two hits each of the team’s nine, said the offense deserves some of the blame for that.
“I mean it is tough a little bit mentally, but we are going to come out tomorrow and really have a chip on our shoulder and really want to try and get the pitchers a lead.
“I feel like today if we could have gotten McKinney a lead and strung together some hits and whatnot that that inning that he gave up five runs would have been totally different.
“I feel like that is kind of on us the hitters and we need to get the pitchers a lead. It is a lot easier to pitch that way.”
Bernal, whose homer was his team-leading eighth, said he didn’t think the hitters were pressing.
“I can’t speak for everyone else, but as a group we have just talked about not pressing,” Bernal said. “The game is going to go the way it goes and we can’t control what pitches are being made or what swings the guys are going to be putting on the ball.”
McKinney (1-2) allowed just one run through four innings and had the game tied 1-1 before loading the bases in the fifth starting off the fifth and being replaced by Teague.
“We brought in our freshest and oldest pitcher and it just didn’t work out,” Van Horn said.
Mike Rivera’s two-run single highlight the five-run outburst that also included run-scoring singles by J.J Schwarz and Jonathan India off Teague and a run-scoring error.
McKinney threw 90 pitches while allowing five hits, three runs, fanning five and walking four and was followed to the mound by Teague, Cannon Chadwick - who pitched 2 2/3 scoreless frames - and Cody Scroggins.
Florida starter Logan Shore (7-0), a likely first-round draft choice in the June MLB draft went 6 2/3 innings while giving up seven hits, fanning four and not walking anyone while the Gators offense pounded out 13 hits.
“McKinney gave us a couple of pretty good innings, but he ended up walking four and that was probably his downfall,” Van Horn said. “His pitch count got up. Shore didn’t walk anybody. He had some quick innings and just had some good stuff.”
Arkansas' other run scored in the eighth after Carson Shaddy double and rode home on Cullen Gassaway's RBI single.
Bernal echoed his coach’s sentiment about Saturday’s game - which will likely be started by either Barrett Loeske or Zach Jackson being a must-win one.
“It is important because we can’t go down and lose and get swept twice in a row,” Bernal said. “Everybody understands that. We are just going to do what we have been trying to do and it’s get this thing turned around.”