Florida Gators baseball knocks off Alabama to advance to SEC Tournament semifinals
HOOVER, Ala — Florida advanced to Saturday's semifinals of the SEC Baseball Tournament with a 7-2 win over Alabama in Thursday's third round at Hoover Met. Stadium.
No. 6 seed Florida (38-19) is rewarded with a day off Friday and will next play at 1 p.m. Saturday. The Gators have three tourney wins by outscoring opponents 24-4 to strengthen their bid to host an NCAA Tournament regional next weekend. They would most likely need to win the tournament to host a Super Regional.
10th-seeded Alabama (31-23) will play No. 2 seed Tennessee (43-15) in an 11 a.m. ET elimination game Friday. The game was moved up because of projected inclement weather conditions.
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UF starter Franco Alemán (2-4) scattered five hits over a career-high seven shutout innings. He walked one, hit two by pitch and struck out four.
"I think the story for us today was Franco Aleman and the start that he gave us," UF coach Kevin O'Sullivan said. "I felt like he pitched really good last weekend at Arkansas, and he certainly built off that today.
"He's making the most of the four pitches of the ball game. He's figuring that out ... There's a reason we kept him in the rotation as long as we did, because we figured if we had a chance to do what this team ultimately wants to do, he was going to have to be one of our three starters."
Trey Van Der Weide pitched a scoreless eighth and closer Jack Leftwich came in the ninth inning and allowed two runs on a walk, hit by pitch and two singles before ending the game.
Nathan Hickey blasted his ninth home run of the season to put UF up in the sixth inning.
The Gators made it 4-0 in the seventh inning off Bama starter Dylan Smith (1-8). Sterlin Thompson started it with a double and scored on Cory Acton's double. Acton then stole third. Mac Guscette drove in Acton with a groundout to make it 3-0. Jacob Young followed with his fifth home run of the season.
The Gators extended the lead to 7-0 in the eighth, highlighted by Thompson's run-scoring single and Acton's two-run single.
Young and Thompson led Florida's 14-hit attack with three each, while Acton had two hits and three runs batted in.
Florida will play the Tennessee-Alabama winner at 1 p.m. Saturday when the tourney goes back to being single elimination. The championship game is set for 3 p.m. Sunday on ESPN2.
What: Semifinal of SEC Baseball Tournament
Who: Florida vs. Tennessee-Alabama winner
When: 1 p.m. Saturday
Where: Hoover Metropolitan Stadium
TV: SEC Network
Radio: AM-850, 98.1-FM