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Florida (38-15, 19-9 SEC) took an early 3-0 lead, but Kentucky (38-16, 19-9 SEC) scored 12 unanswered runs to blow open the game.
Following Thursday’s results, the Gators are tied with Kentucky and LSU atop the SEC standings with two games to go.
Game two of the Florida-Kentucky series is Friday night at 7 p.m. on SEC Network. Florida’s Brady Singer (6-3, 2.58 ERA) will match up with Kentucky left-hander Zach Logue (6-4, 4.50 ERA).
Saturday’s finale is scheduled for 1 p.m. and will stream live on SEC Network+ via the WatchESPN app.
Florida took an early lead, scoring a pair of runs in the bottom of the first. Nelson Maldonado drew a walk to load the bases with one out then Austin Langworthy lifted a sac fly to center field.
Jonathan India followed with a RBI single to center field that scored JJ Schwarz from second base.
The Gators made it 3-0 in the second inning taking advantage of a pair of walks to start the inning. Ryan Larson laid down a sac bunt to move both runners into scoring position and Dalton Guthrie’s RBI groundout to short brought home Mark Kolozsvary.
Alex Faedo scattered five hits through the first three innings without allowing a run but Kentucky finally got to him in the fourth. After getting a pair of quick outs, the Wildcats got a pair of two-out hits and a hit batter to load the bases.
UK leadoff hitter Tristan Pompey gave the visitors the lead, taking the 1-2 pitch from Faedo over the right field wall for a grand slam.
Kentucky added a run in the fifth inning on a RBI single from Troy Squires to make it 5-3.
The Wildcats knocked Faedo from the game in the sixth, adding two more runs on Evan White’s RBI single. Nick Horvath entered from the Gators’ bullpen and got a double play to end the inning.
Kentucky’s offensive attack continued into the seventh as two more runs came in. Back-to-back singles started the inning then a blooper over a drawn-in infield by Kole Cottam scored a pair to make it 9-3. Connor Heady followed with a two-run single of his own.
Riley Mahan hit his 14th home run of the season to cap UK’s 12 unanswered runs.
India picked up a RBI single in the ninth for his third hit of the night.
Head Coach Kevin O’Sullivan Quotes:
“We just got beat, simple as that. Sometimes you’ve just got to credit the other team. I thought early on we had some really good approaches at the plate. I think their starter Hjelle got his pitch count up to about 50 after two innings. I thought we were into it, but obviously the fourth inning kind of got away from us. We had two outs, nobody on then Cottam gets the base hit and we hit Carson I believe. Heady bloops one into the outfield. Pompey has a good at bat, it’s a 1-2 count and I though the pitch was down. He just got a hold of it. They did it a couple innings prior to that with two outs, they got a base hit and another base hit and kind of pushed Alex’s pitch count up.
“We’ve just got to do a little bit better job of that tomorrow. We just got beat. Hjelle settled in after the first couple innings and they had a big four-run fourth. There was a bunt situation where we walked a guy, now we have first and second … we’ve just got to locate the ball better. Sometimes you’ve just got to credit the other team. They played really good tonight. I don’t want to take anything away from them. They just beat us, simple as that. We’ve got to flush it and come back tomorrow and play a little bit better tomorrow.”