Arkansas walks it off against Florida, 4-3

Special to Gatorsports.com

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Top-ranked Arkansas scored single runs in the eighth and ninth innings Friday to rally past No. 9 Florida for a 4-3 win that clinched its first outright SEC regular-season championship since 1999.

The Razorbacks (41-10, 21-8 SEC) won their 10th league series of the season to earn the top seed in next week's SEC tournament in Hoover, Ala.

Florida (35-18, 17-12), seeking a bye in the league tournament, is scuffling after its third consecutive defeat. After striking out 16 times in Thursday's loss, the Gators struck out 17 times Friday.

Trailing for much of the game, the Razorbacks tied it at 3-all in the eighth on Robert Moore's 13th home run of the season off UF reliever Jack Leftwich (7-4).

Then in the ninth, Casey Opitz led off with a double that got past center fielder Jud Fabian for an error. With one out, pinch-hitter Charlie Welch hit a ball to right field that dropped to allow Opitz to score from third.

After a weather delay of one hour and 45 minutes, the Gators went up 2-0 in the first inning when Kendrick Calilao hit a two-run single that scored Nathan Hickey, who had singled, and Kris Armstrong, who had doubled.

Sterlin Thompson hit his fourth home run of the season in the second inning to put the Gators up 3-0.

Arkansas answered with two runs in the bottom of the frame, a home run by Christian Franklin (12th) and a sacrifice fly from Jalen Battles.

UF starter Hunter Barco gave way to Leftwich after going the first six innings. Barco allowed two runs on four hits, he walked three and struck out eight.

 Arkansas starter Caleb Bolden went four innings and was relieved by Peyton Pallette, who had to leave the game due to injury in the sixth. He was replaced by Caden Monke, who struck out seven in three innings, including three in a row in the eighth. 

Reliever Kevin Kopps (10-0) came in the ninth and struck out the side.

The teams close the series at 3 p.m. ET (SEC Network+) Saturday. UF will throw freshman righty Franco Aleman (1-3), while Arkansas hasn't named a starter.

The SEC Baseball Tournament is set for Tuesday-Sunday.