Gators sweep FAMU in Friday's doubleheader to take series
The No. 6 Gators swept both ends of a doubleheader Friday, beating Florida A&M 10-2 and 5-1 at Florida Ballpark.
Colby Halter smacked an eighth-inning grand slam in the series opener and the Gators finished with a season-high 15 hits after a season-low five in Wednesday’s loss to Florida Atlantic.
In game two, UF (8-3) wasn’t challenged after scoring four runs in the third and Jacob Young tied Tim Olson’s 2000 record for the longest hitting streak in school history (29 games).
“He just continues to do what he’s always done,” Florida coach Kevin O’Sullivan said of Young, who tallied two hits in each game to move his multi-hit total to a team-best seven this season. “On the bench today somebody said, ‘Hey, how games is that in a row?’ I said, ‘You gotta leave the dugout right now.’ Don’t want to have any bad luck. But he’s obviously playing really well.”
Friday night starter Tommy Mace pitched a season-high seven innings and Jack Leftwich went for eight innings on the mound, one shy of his career high (complete game against Missouri in 2019).
“That’s the best Jack has thrown. He needed to have an outing like that. I thought he was really good,” O’Sullivan said. “I don’t think Tommy was quite as sharp as he was last weekend, but he battled and gave us what he needed to give us to give us a chance to win.”
Mace struck out five batters with four hits and two runs allowed. He gave up his first homer of the season to Octavien Moyer in the sixth, but bounced back with his fourth 1-2-3 inning before sitting down at 96 pitches (68 strikeouts).
Leftwich pitched five 1-2-3 frames and retired eight straight batters. He had six scoreless innings before Grant Rowell homered off him in the seventh. Rowell had a strong start to the series with five total hits, while Leftwich finished with a season-high eight strikeouts and allowed four hits in 97 pitches (71 strikes).
Leftwich agreed with Sully’s assessment that it was his best outing as a Gator.
“I had all my pitches working. My slider was way sharper,” Leftwich said. “My bullpen this week was probably one of the better bullpens I’ve had since I’ve been at school here.
"On the home run, I had him in a good spot. I was like, 'This kid hit a double off me, I want to get him here.' I tried to do too much on the slider and he hit it.”
Young broke a 1-1 tie in game one with his second at-bat, and UF then scored in three straight innings to pull away from the Rattlers (0-10).
Kirby McMullen opened the game with his first of two RBIs to start the scoring, and FAMU’s Joseph Pierini tied it up the following inning with his RBI single. Young put the Gators back in front in the bottom of the second, followed by four Florida runs in three innings. Halter led off the fourth with a center-field single and scored on a wild pitch, followed by Cory Acton’s two-run single that deflected off the third baseman's glove.
McMullen flied out in the sixth to plate Young, and then Halter launched a homer to right field to give the Gators four more runs.
“I worked a pretty good at-bat, fouled off a bunch of pitches and put a pretty good swing on it,” Halter said after the game. “It's probably one of the farthest balls I've hit in my life. I had my first high school grand slam last year, so it was only the second grand slam of my life.”
Halter had a team-high three hits in the first game and Jordan Butler, Jud Fabian, Sterlin Thompson and Young all finished with two apiece. UF reliever Franco Aleman pitched a scoreless two innings with one strikeout and two hits, while FAMU starter Kyle Colemann struck out four and allowed eight hits, four runs and two walks in four innings pitched.
“Franco came in there at the end and that ninth inning was the best inning he’s thrown all year long,” O’Sullivan said. “He keeps making strides forward and I’m really pleased with where he’s starting to pitch like we know he can.”
After failing to score with three runners on in the second inning of Game 2, Florida loaded the bases again in the third and Thompson singled to left field for an RBI. Halter followed with an RBI single, and a fielder’s choice by Acton and Mac Guscette’s two-out single added two more runs.
Freshman Jordan Carrion, who made his first career start at shortstop, added a key insurance run in the eighth with an RBI single — his sixth straight game with a hit. UF reliever Brandon Sproat pitched the ninth with one strikeout and the Gators closed out the game on a double play.
“Jordan Carrion, I didn’t expect him to hit as much as he has,” O’Sullivan said. “That last run that we got was really important for us. It just stretched the game out to four runs instead of three.”
Due to the forecast of inclement weather Saturday, the schools agreed to a doubleheader Friday. Game 3 is scheduled for Sunday at 1 p.m. It will be on live stream via SECNetwork + and heard on AM-850/98.1-FM.