Florida has winning streak stopped, but comes back to win nightcap of the twinbill at Auburn
AUBURN, Ala. — Florida defeated Auburn 6-4 in the second game Sunday to win the SEC baseball series, the Gators' first on the road this season.
Auburn scored six runs in the fifth inning then held off a Florida rally to take a 10-8 win in the first game of the doubleheader.
"We were fortunate today," UF coach Kevin O'Sullivan said. "Obviously, we didn’t pitch as well as we’d like to in the first game, but I thought we swung the bat really well all weekend.”
No. 15 Florida (28-12, 11-7 SEC) took a 3-1 lead in the fourth inning of the nightcap on three consecutive hits, a Nathan Hickey solo home run, Kirby McMullen's single and Jud Fabian's two-run home run.
That lead didn't last long, as Auburn tied it 3-all in the home half of the fourth with two runs.
The Gators went up 4-3 in the sixth on back-to-back singles by McMullen and Fabian, a wild pitch and a throwing error that allowed McMullen to score.
UF scored twice in the seventh for a 6-3 lead. Colby Halter doubled, Josh Rivera singled and Jacob Young followed with a run-scoring single, as did Hickey.
Auburn scored a run in the seventh to settle the outcome at 6-4.
"I know I sound like a broken record, but we have got to figure out a way to not give up runs after we score," O'Sullivan said. "The rebound runs after we score, it’s really hard to keep momentum in our dugout, and we’re spending way too much time on the bottom half of the order."
Freshman left-hander Hunter Barco (6-2) struck out three and allowed three runs over 5.1 innings to earn the win for Florida. Trey Van Der Weide picked up his second save, retiring all three batters he faced after entering with two men aboard and none out in the bottom of the seventh.
In the first game, Florida had a 6-2 lead entering the home half of the fourth before Auburn (17-20, 3-15) started its comeback to end the Gators' seven-game winning streak in the seven-inning game. The teams were playing two seven-inning games Sunday because of Saturday's weather postponement.
Tyler Miller gave Auburn a 2-0 lead in the first inning with a two-run home run.
The Gators, who won Friday's game 4-2, started the rally with four runs in the third inning. Rivera started it with a solo home run. Hickey later added a run-scoring single, Fabian an RBI double and Kris Armstrong a sacrifice fly.
UF made it 6-2 in the fourth. Rivera doubled and later scored on Hickey's ground out. McMullen added a run-scoring double.
A couple of hits and a UF error allowed Auburn to score twice in the fourth to close the margin to 6-4.
The Tigers took command in the fifth inning by scoring six runs on seven hits for a 10-6 lead. Steven Williams hit a home run off Tommy Mace to bring the Tigers within 6-5 and call in Jack Leftwich (6-3) from the bullpen. Cam Hill hit a two-run home run off Leftwich to give the Tigers a 7-6 lead. Ryan Bliss later hit a two-run single to make it 9-6. A Rankin Woley RBI single capped the scoring.
Florida cut into the deficit with two outs in the seventh. Fabian walked, advanced to second and scored on a single by Sterlin Thompson, who later scored on Armstrong's double to bring UF within 10-8. Halter struck out to end the game for the Gators.
The Gators begin a key home series at 7 p.m. Friday (ESPNU) against No. 2 Vanderbilt (31-7, 13-5). Saturday's game is set for a 6:30 p.m. start (SEC Network+) and Sunday at 3 p.m. (ESPN2).
Note: Fabian had a multi-home run series, hitting one in the second game Sunday after having one Friday. His 14 homers lead the team. ... Prior to Sunday’s appearance, Leftwich had thrown nine consecutive no-hit innings over his previous three appearances.