Mace's career high, Fabian's homer lift Gators past Samford

Zach Abolverdi
Gator Sports
Florida outfielder Jud Fabian belts a home run Friday against Samford at Florida Ballpark.

Pitcher Tommy Mace posted a career high and the Gators scored in four consecutive innings to win their third series opener Friday. 

No. 7 Florida defeated Samford, 8-4, behind six scoreless innings from Mace and Jud Fabian’s third home run in two games. 

Mace was tested in the third after giving up back-to-back one-out singles, but closed out the inning with two straight strikeouts. He struck out a career-high 11 batters and allowed three hits in 100 total pitches (68 strikes). 

"He was really sharp. He really commanded the outer half of the plate," UF coach Kevin O'Sullivan said of Mace. "His misses were small. I thought he was outstanding. He set the tone for the weekend."

UF (4-2) loaded the bases in the second with two outs on a walk and a pair of errors, and Jordan Carrion’s single brought a couple of runs across. Fabian blasted a homer to left field the following inning and then the Gators scored three in the fourth. 

"He put a couple good swings on the ball," O'Sullivan said of Fabian. "Obviously hit the home run and just missed another one to dead center. He's starting to come around, but it's not by accident. He's worked awfully hard this week to get things going and I think that's starting to show right now."

Kris Armstrong tripled into the right field corner to plate Sterlin Thompson, Colby Halter followed with an RBI single and Jacob Young’s RBI double extended his hitting streak to 24 games, tying Jonathan India for the longest under O’Sullivan. 

"I think it was a change-up and I stayed on it and drove it the other way to left field. I got a pretty good swing on that," Thompson said of his single. "It was good to start the inning off with that, which led to other runs. And then everything went well from there."

Thompson added two more runs in the fifth when he tripled down the right field line and scored on a throwing error by Samford second baseman Brooks Carlson. 

Florida’s shutout ended after Brandon Sproat took over for Mace and gave up a homer against the second batter he faced, Tyler McManus. The Bulldogs (3-2) scored in the eighth on a wild pitch by Sproat, who finished with three strikeouts and two hits in 1.2 innings pitched, and added two more runs in the final inning against Hunter Mink.

"We gotta stopping giving up runs late in the game," O'Sullivan said. "We had a six-run lead and we're walking guys that are coming off the bench. We need to attack. These things can't happen. It's just disappointing that we weren't able to finish on a clean note."

First pitch for the Gators’ second game against Samford is set for 4 p.m. Saturday.

Florida ace Tommy Mace was dealing Friday against Samford at Florida Ballpark.