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Florida takes series opener for 13th consecutive win over Mizzou

Zach Abolverdi
Gator Sports

After a two-four, 50-minute rain delay, Missouri baseball’s drought against the Gators continued Friday. 

With reliever Christian Scott pitching 5.2 scoreless innings and allowing just one hit, No. 18 Florida (23-11, 7-6 SEC) won its 13 consecutive game over the Tigers, 8-5, behind Jud Fabian’s solo shot and a six-run third inning. The winning streak matches UF’s longest vs. an SEC opponent over the past 50 years.

Mizzou scored four in the fourth to respond, but Scott retired his first 12 batters in a row and Florida added an eighth-inning insurance run with a double by Nathan Hickey, who had four of the team’s 13 hits. 

"Without his outing and his performance tonight, the outcome may have been a little bit different. Really pleased with how he pitched," UF coach Kevin O'Sullivan said of Scott. "I thought our at-bats all night were pretty good. Nathan had a 4-4 night and Jud obviously hit the home run and the hard double down the left-field line."

Fabian gave the Gators a 1-0 in the second with his 12th home run, which ranks second in the SEC. Missouri (11-21, 4-9) tied it up when Ty Wilmsmeyer scored on Kirby McMullen’s error at third base, but McMullen redeemed himself with a three-run homer in the bottom of the third. 

UF tacked on three more runs that inning with Jordan Butler’s right-field single, a triple to right center by Kendrick Calilao and Colby Halter’s sacrifice fly to bring home Calilao. 

Pitcher Franco Aleman started his second series opener this season. He gave up three earned runs — all in the fourth — and was pulled two batters later, allowing five hits and two walks with three strikeouts in 77 pitches. Aleman’s throwing error advanced Missouri’s Mike Coletta to third and prompted his removal. 

"It was disappointing," O'Sullivan said of Aleman's start. "We left Tennessee and their coaches said that was the best arm they'd seen all year long. ... I was probably surprised as anybody to see him pitch the way he did tonight. I certainly would not have rewarded him a Friday night start without having full confidence in him. 

"The inconsistencies on the mound gotta get cleaned up. We score six in the bottom of the third and turn around and give up four. The dugout's all excited, we have a really great inning offensively and then without 15 minutes all the momentum is lost. The pitcher's responsibility is to go out there and put a zero on the board."

Scott took the mound against leadoff hitter Mark Vierling, who cut the deficit to 7-5 with his sac fly to plate Coletta. Scott then tossed three straight 1-2-3 innings and notched his second win of the year, finishing with three strikeouts in 83 pitches. 

"I don't think I had my best stuff, but I was able to locate in and out of the zone," Scott said. "I was able to throw inside and outside. So I feel like getting a lot of weak contact, especially early in counts, was big."

Florida has won 10 straight at home against Mizzou and swept the last four series, including the previous three in Gainesville (2014, 2016 and 2018). The Gators will go for the series win today at 1 p.m. and their first four-game winning streak in more than a month (March 10). The teams are looking to play a doubleheader due to Sunday’s forecast. Today's second game will begin 45 minutes after the completion of the first game. Both games will stream on SEC Network+.