Florida offense returns in series finale

The Gators needed to salvage one game of the series after losing the first two Kentucky, and an offensive breakout allowed that to happen on Sunday.

Florida (33-12, 13-8 SEC) collected 16 hits and scored multiple runs in four of its eight innings at the plate. The Gators scored eight runs in the last three games, and four of those came in a ninth-inning rally on Saturday that fell one run short. That momentum at the plate carried into Sunday and helped Florida avoid being swept, pounding Kentucky 10-1.

“We swung the bats great,” Florida coach Kevin O’Sullivan said on the postgame radio show. “We got hits from everybody in the lineup today, and honestly, it was a game we needed to win. We didn’t play as well as we wanted to, but you’ve got to credit Kentucky. You can look at it like we’ve lost the last two of three or you can think we’ve won seven of our last nine. We had a rally last night that gave us momentum into today. We played today the way that we’re capable.”

Kentucky took a 1-0 lead in the second inning after three straight singles, but it didn’t last long. Florida tied the game with an RBI double by Pete Alonso, and freshmen J.J. Schwarz and Mike Rivera chipped in with sacrifice flies to make it 3-1 after two innings.

After a scoreless third inning, the Florida offense scored two runs in three straight innings. In the fourth inning, Florida started with back-to-back singles, but after Rivera couldn’t get a bunt down and Ryan Larson popped up, it didn’t look promising. A clutch two-out, two-run triple by Dalton Guthrie stretched the lead out to 5-1 and gave Florida some breathing room.

“Dalton had a big day after a tough couple of games,” O’Sullivan said. “That triple kind of broke things open because we had a couple opportunities there with runners at third and less than two outs where we didn’t do much with them. That was a big hit.

The Gators got a strong start from freshman Alex Faedo, who went 5.1 innings while allowing six hits, one walk and one run. The right-hander added four strikeouts and threw strikes on 60 of his 82 pitches, lowering his ERA on the season to 2.52.

Taylor Lewis reliever Faedo and tossed 2.1 perfect innings out of the bullpen, adding two strikeouts. Bobby Poyner allowed one hit over the final 1.1 innings to finish the game.

“Alex gave us a really good start, pitched out of a couple jams early. Taylor came in and did a nice job again, Bobby did as well,” O’Sullivan said. “Last week, (Faedo) threw really good in a tough environment. Today, he was even better. I really liked his demeanor before the game. I didn’t sense any nervousness or him being uptight. He realized the importance of the game and pitched accordingly. He knew what was at stake today.”

The Gators don’t have a midweek game this week and will return to action at Georgia on Friday at 7 p.m.

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