By JM Soracchi, Correspondent
If the Florida baseball team is going to have a chance to return to the College World Series in 2019, it will need more performances like Christian Scott’s on Sunday.
The freshman reliever came in and threw 4.1 scoreless innings to preserve a four-run lead during the Gators’ 12-8 victory over Kentucky.
The win gives Florida its third SEC series win of the season and improves its season record to 28-18 overall and 9-12 in conference play.
Scott (5-3) allowed just three hits and no walks while striking out two. If the Gators had been able to credit Scott with a save as well, they surely would have.
“The freshmen have just been a little bit inconsistent, so for (Scott) to bounce back and throw like that for the last four-plus innings was big for us,” said Florida coach Kevin O’Sullivan. “We just needed somebody to put a zero on the board. Three different times during the game we scored then went back out and gave up some runs. We’ve been talking about that a lot this year, when our offense scores we’ve got to go out and put a zero on the board. Christian was able to do that.”
Although the Gators never trailed in the contest, they allowed Kentucky to tie the game 8-8 in the top of the fifth inning after the Wildcats (22-22, 5-16) pushed four runs across.
Florida responded with two runs each in the fifth and sixth innings to go back on top by four and needed to survive a two-out, bases loaded situation for Kentucky in the eighth inning along the way. Kentucky also had the bases loaded when the third and fifth innings ended, and left 10 total runners stranded.
The Wildcats actually outhit the Gators 14-13, but Florida got 10 extra base runners via eight walks and two hit batters.
Nelson Maldonado and Brady Smith each hit a two-run home run for Florida while junior left fielder Austin Langworthy went 3 for 4 with a triple, three runs and three RBI.
“Ideally, you get a hit your first at-bat of the game, you kind of want to keep building off of that,” Langworthy said.
Maldonado, a senior designated hitter, ended the weekend against the Wildcats by going 5 for 12 (.417) with two homers and eight RBI. In 12 career games against Kentucky, Maldonado is 18 for 44 (.409) with five home runs and 17 RBI.
“I’ve had a pretty successful history off Kentucky,” Maldonado said. “I don’t know what it is. Maybe I just came ready to play this weekend.”
Florida starts a crucial three-game SEC series Friday at No. 4 Georgia.