No. 9 Florida swept by No. 1 Arkansas, draws Kentucky in opening round of SEC tournament

Special to Gatorsports.com

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — No. 9 Florida was hoping to get out of its final series of the regular season with enough wins to receive a top eight national seed in the NCAA tournament and a better position in next week's SEC tournament.

Top-ranked Arkansas (42-10, 22-8 SEC) wasn't having it. The Razorbacks, who won the SEC regular-season championship with Friday's 4-3 win, routed the Gators 9-3 Saturday to sweep the series.

Florida (35-19, 17-13), which finished third in the SEC East, will enter the league tournament on a four-game losing streak. The Gators received the No. 6 seed in the SEC Tournament and will take on 11th-seeded Kentucky (29-22) in Hoover, Ala. on Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. ET. The winner plays three seed Mississippi State (40-13) at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday.

"Credit Arkansas," UF coach Kevin O'Sullivan said. "They played really well this weekend. Kind of fell apart there in the bottom of the seventh and they had the big inning with seven runs. Bottom line is they just outplayed us this weekend. They outpitched us; they outhit us. Credit them."

Arkansas went up 2-0 in the fourth on Brady Slavens' two-run home run off Franco Aleman (1-4).

Florida cut into the deficit in the fifth. Sterlin Thompson singled, stole second base, moved to third on Cory Acton's infield single and scored on Jacob Young's groundout.

The Gators tied it 2-all in the sixth when Kendrick Calilao hit into a double play that scored Jud Fabian from third. Fabian had singled and moved to third on Kris Armstrong's single.

The Razorbacks pulled away in the seventh inning with seven runs for a 9-2 advantage. Three consecutive singles, the last by Jaylen Battles, scored a run. After a hit by pitch that loaded the bases, Aleman was replaced by Jordan Butler, who unleashed a wild pitch that scored a run. Pinch-hitter Charlie Welch's double drove in two. Slavens then smacked a three-run home run, his 13th of the season.

Thompson capped the day's scoring with a run-scoring double in the ninth.

Arkansas starter Jaxon Wiggins pitched just three innings, allowing two hits and striking out two. Reliever Zebulon Vermillion (3-0) earned the win, tossing one scoreless inning with two strikeouts.

The SEC Baseball Tournament is set for Tuesday-Sunday in Hoover, Ala. All the games except for the championship (ESPN2) will be carried on the SEC Network. The tournament will feature 12 teams with seeds 5-12 playing in a single elimination format on the opening day of the tournament, Tuesday, followed by traditional double-elimination play Wednesday-Friday. The tournament will return to single elimination play on Saturday.

Notes: Aleman struck out a career-high eight batters. ... Florida falls to 7-12 on the road this season.