LEXINGTON, Ky. — Top-ranked Florida took charge in the third inning of the SEC baseball series opener against No. 6 Kentucky and never looked back for an 11-2 win Thursday night.
Gators ace Brady Singer (8-1) cruised through seven innings of work, striking out 10, walking one and allowing just three hits and the two earned runs.
“I had my sinker working,” Singer told the SEC Network. “It was working much better than it has all year. I was fighting it all year and hopefully I found it and it carries on the next few weeks.”
Florida (33-7, 13-3 SEC) seized command of the game by scoring six runs in the third inning. Deacon Liput hit a two-run double and Nelson Maldonado drove in a run with a sacrifice fly before Wil Dalton belted a three-run home run, his SEC-leading 14th of the season.
“We benefited from a few walks there in the third inning and Deacon hit the double in to the gap, then obviously got the home run from Wil Dalton,” UF coach Kevin O’Sullivan said.
“After we got the lead we continued to pitch well and play good defense and got some hits up and down the lineup. It was a difficult night to hit too because they showed us a lot of different pitchers and that can make it hard to get into a rhythm.”
UF made it 7-0 in the fourth on Liput’s fielder’s choice groundout.
Kentucky (25-13, 7-9) cut the deficit to 7-2 with two runs in the fourth.
Singer then retired 10 of the next 11 batters to end his night.
“Brady was really good,” O’Sullivan said. “He pitched really well early on and had a special fastball tonight and had command of his slider.”
The Gators went up 8-2 in the fifth on JJ Schwarz’s double and Blake Reese’s run-scoring single.
Brady Smith put the game out of reach at 9-2 in the eighth inning with a solo home run.
Reese reached on a throwing error that allowed Dalton to score in the ninth, as it became 10-2 and then 11-2 on Smith’s RBI single.
Florida junior third baseman Jonathan India saw his 24-game hitting streak come to an end after going 0 for 3 with two walks. Tim Olson (1999) holds UF’s hit-streak record at 29. During the hitting streak, India hit .513 with 16 multi-hit games, eight home runs and 21 RBI.
Tommy Mace closed it out on the mound for the Gators, tossing two scoreless innings.
The teams will play Game 2 of the series starting at 7:30 p.m. Friday. The game will be carried on the SEC Network. The series finale is Saturday at 1 p.m. (SEC Network+ stream only).