No. 5 Florida routs Texas A&M to open SEC weekend

Zach Abolverdi
Gator Sports
Tommy Mace brought the heat Thursday night against Texas A&M at Florida Ballpark. He went seven innings, allowed six hits, four runs, two of them earned, didn't walk a batter and struck out 11 in the Gators' 13-4 win.

No. 5 Florida opened SEC play in dominant fashion Thursday, bouncing back from a midweek loss to rival Florida State. 

UF (14-5) finished with a season-high 16 hits and had its second best scoring inning of the season, while pitcher Tommy Mace tied his career high with 11 strikeouts in the Gators’ 13-4 win over Texas A&M (15-5) at Florida Ballpark. 

Every batter in Florida’s lineup had a hit, freshman Mac Guscette led the team with four, and Colby Halter and Jub Fabian both homered. Halter’s two-run shot in the fourth was the first of six runs scored that inning — two shy of the team's season high (eight against Samford). 

"Arguably, that might have been the most complete game we played all year long," UF coach Kevin O'Sullivan said. "Tommy was outstanding on the mound and kind of controlled the tempo. We did a really job offensively against their pitching staff and I was really, really pleased with how we bounced back. Obviously Tuesday was a really difficult night for us, but they played hard tonight and played with some confidence."

After two scoreless innings, Guscette and Halter singled in the third and then Jacob Young loaded the bases on a walk. Nathan Hickey, who had three hits Thursday, then singled to right to bring home Guscette and Kirby McMullen’s two-run single scored Halter and Young. 

Mace (4-0) gave up a home run to Ty Coleman in the top of the fourth, but Halter answered and opened the floodgates. Fabian scored on a wild pitch with bases loaded, Jordan Butler’s sacrifice fly plated Hickey, Josh Rivera hit a left-center RBI single and Guscette added the sixth run of the inning with his RBI single to left. 

"He's a really good hitter and there's a reason why he was in the lineup tonight. I certainly didn't expect him to get four hits," O'Sullivan said of Guscette. "If you get an opportunity to put up multiple runs in an inning, you gotta have your best at-bats. In this league, you may only get one or two of those opportunities in a game. So when the door opens, you gotta push it through and we did a great job." 

The Aggies scored three in the sixth with Austin Bost’s double, Coleman's single and Ryan Targac’s sacrifice fly, but Florida responded in the bottom of the inning. After a single by Young, Fabian launched a three-run homer — his seventh of the season — to push the lead to nine runs.

"I thought Jud had three really good at-bats," O'Sullivan said. 

Mace pitched his third 1-2-3 inning in the seventh and sat down with a season-high 107 pitches (72 strikeouts), allowing four runs on six hits. Mace didn’t walk any batters despite Texas A&M leading the nation with 123 walks. 

"I felt really good out there. Going into league play, I wanted to execute as much as possible. That was my goal for the night and it worked," Mace said. "I was just trying to get outs and stay efficient. I think that was my problem the last couple weeks. I'm happy that it happened tonight so I could go deep in a ball game and still have those strikeouts." 

Reliever Ryan Cabarcas had two groundouts and a flyout in a 1-2-3 eighth inning, and the Gators closed out the game on a double play with Brandon Sproat on the mound. Aggies starter Dustin Saenz (3-2) gave up five runs on eight hits with three strikeouts and a walk in 3.0 innings. 

The teams play again Friday at 6:30 p.m. for the second game of the series.

Friday

Who: Texas A&M at Florida

When: 6:30 p.m.

Live stream: SEC Network+

Radio: AM-850, 98.1-FM

Pitching matchup: Texas A&M righty Bryce Miller (2-0) vs. UF RHP Jack Leftwich (2-0)

Game 3: 1 p.m. Saturday