Special to Gatorsports.com
COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Junior Jackson Kowar provided top-ranked Florida with another strong pitching performance Saturday in defeating No. 21 Texas A&M 6-1 to win the SEC baseball series.
It is the Gators’ 18th consecutive series win and 11th in a row this year. Florida goes for the series sweep at 1 p.m. Sunday (ESPN2).
A day following a dominant mound performance by ace Brady Singer, who tossed a complete-game shutout in a 9-0 win Friday, Kowar was cruising with a perfect game through four innings Saturday. Kowar let it get away by walking a batter and allowing a single with two outs in the fifth, but escaped damage by striking out the next Texas A&M (33-14, 11-12 SEC) batter.
“It’s a great series win,” UF coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “Brady threw a complete game last night and Jackson was able to go six innings today. If Jack’s (Leftwich) able to go deep tomorrow and give us six innings we’ve got a good chance for another win.”
Kowar (8-2) went six innings, allowed one hit, the one run, three walks and had eight strikeouts. Jordan Butler, Tyler Dyson and Michael Byrne kept the Aggies off the scoreboard the rest of the way in the combined three-hitter.
“That’s the best Jackson has pitched all year,” O’Sullivan said. “He was really, really focused today and his stuff was just dynamite. He pitched the way he’s certainly capable of doing. If he can build on that he’s got a chance to really be strong for us down the stretch.”
Florida (38-10, 18-5) again scored first on Jonathan India’s RBI groundout in the third inning after walks to Blake Reese and Nick Horvath and a Deacon Liput sacrifice bunt.
The Gators took command with a three-run sixth inning for a 4-0 lead. JJ Schwarz and Austin Langworthy had RBI singles and Reese a sacrifice fly to highlight the scoring.
Kowar got wild in the Aggie sixth, as two walks, a hit batter and a wild pitch allowed the home team to score a run.
Florida got the run back for a 5-1 lead in the seventh on Liput’s double, stolen base and India sacrifice fly.
The Gators made it 6-1 in the eighth following a two-base error and a Brady Smith sacrifice fly.
“We were very good in situational hitting today,” O’Sullivan said. “I think we had five situations with runners at third with less than two outs and four times we were successful. We had some left-on-left situations and got some bunts down, we just felt like with the way Jackson was throwing and the way the game was going that three or four runs might be enough.
“We played really good defense again, turned the double play to end the ball game. The two guys in the middle, Deacon and Blake, made a really nice play to end the eighth when they had some momentum.”
Note: Going back to the first inning of last Saturday’s win against Auburn, Florida pitchers went 23 innings in a row without allowing a run. The Aggies did not score until the sixth inning Saturday after being shut out Friday night.