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Florida (32-13, 13-8 SEC) has won six games in a row, its longest win streak of the season, and limited Jacksonville (26-18) to just four hits on the night.
Hicks entered the week with just a single home run on the season but now has three in the past two games. He’s become a valuable part of the Gators offense this season with a .297 average and 21 RBI as a regular in the lineup.
Florida opened the scoring in the first inning. Deacon Liput led off with a walk and went to third on a single by Austin Langworthy.
JJ Schwarz’s RBI single made it 1-0 for the home team. Schwarz had a pair of hits on the night, both two-out, RBI singles.
Jacksonville took advantage of some uncharacteristic walks from Florida in the third inning. UF starter Nick Long walked two straight batters and was replaced by Nate Brown, who walked the first two hitters he faced to bring in the tying run.
A RBI ground out to second gave the Dolphins a 2-1 lead before Brown escaped the jam.
Hicks’ first home run of the night tied the game in the fourth inning and Brown settled in nicely to work 2.1 scoreless innings before Nick Horvath relieved him in the fifth inning.
In the sixth, Langworthy led off with a single and Florida took the lead on Hicks’ second homer of the night, a two-run shot to right.
The Gators added a pair of insurance runs in the seventh on RBI singles from Blake Reese and Schwarz.
Horvath worked 2.2 scoreless innings and Tyler Dyson tossed the final two innings, retiring all six batters he faced on just 15 pitches.
Florida’s home stand continues this weekend as the Gators host Ole Miss for a three-game series beginning Friday at 6:30 p.m.
Head Coach Kevin O’Sullivan Quotes:
“Those two young kids [Nick Long and Nate Brown] have good arms. I thought Nate threw the ball pretty good when he came in, it was a tough situation. I was trying to get three innings out of Nick, I really don’t like bringing those young pitchers in during the middle of an inning. I’d rather have them start the inning. Nate was put in a tough position, first and second with nobody out. But he did get a couple punch outs even though he walked a guy in and kept it to just two runs. It could have gotten away from us at that point. Nick [Horvath] came in and did a great job. Had the runner at third and got the ground ball and kept the game at 2-2 at that point.
“Then Dyson, I think I saw it in a short pen at Vanderbilt. It was starting to come together for him. We pushed his elbow up, starting to get on the side of the ball and the slider had just a little shorter break, it looked like a real, true slider. He threw 15 pitches tonight in two innings, 10 strikes, and was just outstanding. If he can continue to do that he’s going to really help us down the stretch.
“Offensively, six of the nine starters got hits, I think eight got on base. Obviously the guy of the night was Christian Hicks with the two homers. I can’t say enough about the year that he’s had. He’s hitting close to .300, he’s played all four infield positions, when Dalton went down for a couple weeks he filled in great at shortstop, other than that one ball he dropped at Auburn earlier in the year. He’s been great for us. He’s been one of our best players. It wasn’t an easy night, you see the wing blowing right now, it wasn’t an easy night to get the ball out of the yard. And JJ had another good night with a couple more hits.
“I think Nelly is going to be ok [left the game in the fifth inning after a diving catch attempt], at least that’s the initial thing I was told. India took BP today and said he felt really good so we’ll get him to see the doctor one more time tomorrow to see where he’s at. Mikey’s probably another week away.”