Gators sweep Crimson Tide
Published: Sunday, May 4, 2014 at 7:05 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, May 4, 2014 at 7:05 p.m.
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Can anyone slow down the Gators in the Southeastern Conference?
No. 12 Alabama provided little resistance for one of the nation's hottest teams weekend.
No. 5 Florida completed a dominant sweep with yet another impressive performance, dismantling the Crimson Tide 13-3 at Sewell-Thomas Stadium on Sunday.
Florida has now won 11 straight SEC games, a streak that ties the school record set in 1968.
“It's hard to get any sweeps in this league at home, let alone on the road against a really good Alabama team,” UF coach Kevin O'Sullivan said. “We're just playing really well right now. I've said this all along, it's not who you play, but when you play them. … We just played well this weekend.”
Few are playing better than the Gators (33-15, 18-6 SEC), who are steamrolling towards a national seed in next month's NCAA Tournament and have amassed a three-game lead in the conference with six games to play.
A 4-2 finish in the final two series — Vanderbilt at home this weekend and at Tennessee next weekend — would assure Florida of the title and the No. 1 seed in the SEC Tournament later this month.
On Sunday, Florida took control in the fourth inning, piling up four runs on four hits and two walks off of Alabama starter Jon Keller. Leading 1-0 already, runs came in on an RBI single by Harrison Bader and Taylor Gushue's sacrifice fly to make it 3-0, then Peter Alonso broke it open with a two run double inside the chalk in left field to get it to 5-0.
Alonso kept busy in the seventh inning, clubbing a line drive that skipped on top of the left field fence and over for a solo home run to make it 7-1. The Gators added three runs in the eighth and three more in the ninth.
Alonso finished 3-for-4 with the double, home run and 4 RBI.
O'Sullivan kept all three games at the pace he wanted — slow — with several mound visits, batter conferences and an abundance of pitching changes, a strategy that Alabama coach Mitch Gaspard admitted caught his team by surprise on Friday night.
Flexing the muscle of his deep bullpen, O'Sullivan had the luxury of playing matchups in the middle innings with a five-run lead. It worked as Alabama (30-18, 13-11 SEC) left 10 runners on base Sunday and never mounted a serious threat.
“It was a really disappointing weekend for us,” Gaspard said. It was just the second time Alabama had been swept by an SEC team at home since 2004. “You've got to credit Florida, they just played three flawless ballgames. They were outstanding in every phase.”
Now the Gators move on with a sweep in hand to see if any SEC team can slow them down.
“We're certainly not going to take our foot off the gas pedal, we've got to push forward,” said O'Sullivan, whose team outscored the Crimson Tide 24-9 over the three games. “We're playing well, we've accomplished a lot but we really haven't accomplished anything yet. There's a lot of season left. Are we playing good? Yes, but we still have a lot ahead of us.”