It was a revenge game for the Gators (35-19, 20-9 SEC) who lost to the Wildcats Thursday night 12-4 and they did to Kentucky (38-17, 19-10 SEC) Friday exactly what was done to them on Thursday. Florida now has clinched at least a tie for the SEC East and will win it outright if they can beat Kentucky on Saturday. The Gators will clinch at least a tie for the SEC Championship with a win as well.
Friday night was a solid night both offensively and defensively. Singer came to the park ready and was dealing the heat early in the contest. He threw six scoreless and hitless innings to start the contest before several long pauses off the field took their toll and he lost some of his focus. He left the game after seven innings throwing 107 pitches, allowing five hits and three earned runs. He also struck out eight on the night.
The Gator bats have been strong of late minus Thursday night and Florida had four multi-run innings on the night. Kolozsvary, junior Dalton Guthrie, and sophomore Jonathan India all had three hits on the night in a game that saw the Gators amass 16 hits on Wildcat pitching.
To go with Kolozsvary’s career night, sophomore Deacon Liput also had a career high four RBI with two keep long ball sacrifice flies and a two RBI single late in the game.
The Gators led 11-0 when Singer finally was tagged in the seventh inning for the three runs. He finished the inning, and Florida was able to get the three back to end the contest.
“He was really good,” Florida head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “Other than the fourth inning when I think he had three walks, he was really good and really threw the ball well. We needed that. We needed a lift like that.”
Senior Frank Rubio came on in the eighth put the Wildcats down in six pitches before giving way to freshman Kirby McMullen to finish the game in the ninth. McMullen did have the bases loaded before forcing a pop up in the infield to end the game.
“I thought Rubio, even though the score was what it was, I thought he made some real quality pitches on back-to-back nights,” O’Sullivan said. “Kirby made a couple of big pitches there at the end not to give them any momentum going into tomorrow.
“It’s about location. Location wins and execution wins and I thought he executed well tonight.”
Florida had it handed to them Thursday night ending a string of nine straight wins in conference games. They could have held their heads down, but O’Sullivan was quick to give the other team credit and make sure his team was ready to go Friday.
“They did and you know, it’s one game,” he said about Kentucky on Thursday and the message to his guys. “The bottom line like I said las night… they beat us. Sometimes you have to tip your cap to the other team and we did the same thing tonight.
The bats doing ell was a good sight to see.
Offensively we were good and had 16 hits on the night and they were spread out throughout the whole lineup,” O’Sullivan said. “Guys had a good approach against their starter. It was a good overall team effort.”
All but leadoff hitter Ryan Larson hit the ball. The six, seven, and nine hole hitters had eight hits among them.
“That’s what happened to us last night with Kentucky’s lineup,” O’Sullivan said. “The bottom half of the lineup hurt us. Mark did have a really good night at the plate and I thought he caught very well. It’s good to see Deacon get a big hit there at the end and drive in a few. India’s comeback and is swinging the bat good. Austin had a couple of hits and Dalton went three for three, so it was a good night.”
Florida is now a game up on Kentucky and tied with LSU in conference play. LSU has to play Mississippi State Saturday and if Florida and LSU both win they are co-Champions of the conference. If Florida loses they could fall to third in the conference.
It comes down to a one game deal and it’s amazing how it seems every year it comes down to the last game,” O’Sullivan said. “You play 29 of these things and it comes down to the last one. We’re excited to have an opportunity to win an SEC Championship.
Florida will send sophomore Jackson Kowar against the Wildcats’ sophomore Justin Lewis.
“It should be a very interesting game tomorrow and come down to starting pitching and who executes,” O’Sullivan said. “They have their closer and they’ve extended him before. They will not be afraid to go to him in the sixth inning or so. We’re going to have to have a good approach against their starter. We’re going to have to throw the ball good. Jackson will have to throw the ball good tomorrow and go from there.”
“It’ll be fun and this is what you play for. Hopefully we’ll play as well as we did tonight. It’s certainly not going to be easy. Kentucky has a really good club. It will probably come down to who has the best approach at the plate and who has the best starting pitching.”