Locke Leads Gators to Even Series

Junior Stephen Locke (4-2) hurled his second career complete game to help No. 22 Florida defeat Alabama, 6-2, on Saturday.

The left-hander scattered seven hits and gave up one earned run as the Gators (30-19/14-12 SEC) evened the weekend series. He surrendered six singles and one double and went the distance on 96 pitches.

The victory moved the Orange and Blue into fourth in the race for the SEC Tournament, just ahead of the Crimson Tide, Kentucky, Ole Miss and South Carolina, who are all 13-13. Senior Brandon McArthur and sophomore Matt den Dekker were each 3-for-5 as head coach Kevin O'Sullivan's club exceeded its win total from last season.

The Gators jumped on junior Austin Hyatt (3-4) for two runs and four hits in the opening frame. McArthur ripped his ninth double and freshman Josh Adams poked a two-out single to open the scoring. Adams moved into scoring position with his 10th stolen base and went to third on an infield hit by den Dekker. After senior Jon Townsend came through with an RBI single for a 2-0 lead, senior Bryson Barber walked to load the bases. Hyatt fanned freshman Riley Cooper to end the stanza.

Helped by a defensive lapse, the Tide cut the deficit in half during the third. Junior Alex Kubal had his team's first hit of the afternoon off Locke and was caught off base with two down in the inning. However, Townsend dropped the relay throw to keep the inning alive. Freshman Ross Wilson singled through the right side and advanced to second on the relay, giving UA two runners in scoring position. Locke uncorked a wild pitch that allowed Kubal to score but had sophomore Brandon May ground out to keep UF ahead.

Junior Teddy Foster cranked his second homer of the season with one down in the fourth for a 3-1 margin. The blast landed in the trees overlooking the left-field fence and was Foster's third RBI. Barnes followed with a walk, ending the afternoon for Hyatt (3.1 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 K, 3 BB).

Barber delivered a clutch two-out double in the fifth off freshman reliever Jimmy Nelson to increase UF's lead to 4-1. den Dekker stroked a one-out single, moved to second on a grounder by Townsend and stole third for his 17th-straight theft. Barber then rocked a 3-2 pitch into left center for his fourth two-bagger.

In the bottom of the frame, Alabama used an RBI double down the left-field line by Kubal to close to within 4-2. Junior Kyle Moore led off with a single and moved over on sophomore Jake Smith's grounder. After Kubal's double, Locke had freshman Josh Rutledge line into an inning-ending double play.

A couple of errors on the same play with two down in the eighth allowed Florida to take a 5-2 lead. With Barnes at third and McArthur on first, Figueroa hit a ground ball to first that senior Matt Bentley misplayed, enabling Barnes to score. Wilson also had a throwing miscue on the play that kept the inning alive. Rutledge later established an Alabama freshman record with a two-out single in the home part of the frame that raised his hitting streak to 28 games.

Cooper finalized the margin with a two-out RBI single in the ninth that plated Townsend. Florida held a 12-7 edge in hits, as eight of its nine starters had at least one. Junior RHP Patrick Keating (8-0, 3.22) will start Sunday's finale against UA righty Robert Phares (2-3, 5.91). The contest will be shown live on CSS at 2 p.m.

Courtesy UF Sports Information

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