Florida Gators baseball ends SEC slide as Brandon Sproat gets best of No. 2 Arkansas
Florida baseball pitcher Brandon Sproat has now strung together two strong outings versus No. 23 Georgia last weekend and No. 2 Arkansas. He shut down the potent Razorbacks' lineup Friday night to help his team force the rubber match.
The right-hander went 5 2/3 innings, giving up seven hits, two walks and one earned run while striking out five. His strong start propelled the Gators toward a 7-2 victory Friday at Florida Ballpark to even the series.
Coach Kevin O'Sullivan talked about Sproat's performance after the game.
"It was big for everybody. It was big for our team. It was big for him. It was big for our team," he said. "I think he's starting to come into his own. I don't want to get too far ahead of ourselves, but he pitched really good. I thought he pitched really good last week against Georgia, too. I think the biggest step forward for him was his curveball tonight."
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Gators get big hits, too
Florida's lineup came out blasting after only recording three hits in an 8-1 defeat Thursday. Centerfielder Jud Fabian doubled after second baseman Colby Halter flew out to center field. Fabian advanced to third on a passed ball and then was driven in by a right fielder Sterlin Thompson sacrifice fly.
Left fielder Wyatt Langford then blasted an opposite-field homer to give them a 2-0 advantage after the first inning.
The Gators picked up where they left off in the next inning. Arkansas starter Hagen Smith loaded the bases and walked third baseman Deric Fabian to send a runner home. Halter then drove in shortstop Joshua Rivera to push their lead to 4-0. Catcher BT Riopelle snuck a solo shot over the right-center-field wall to add another run.
Arkansas took advantage of a Halter error in the top of the fifth to finally get on the board. Florida responded quickly, earning that run in the bottom half. Riopelle drove in Thompson via a sac fly and first baseman Kendrick Calilao doubled down the left-field line, scoring Langford to increase the lead to 7-1.
The Razorbacks scored one more run when designated hitter Brady Slavens tripled to center field, driving in Braydon Webb.
Florida then held on in the ninth to clinch the 7-2 victory, breaking a six-game losing streak versus SEC opponents. Langford finished the night 2-for-4 with a homer and an RBI. Riopelle went 2-for-3 with a longball and two RBIs. The Gators' lineup also only struck out four times versus Arkansas.
The Gators return Saturday at 1 p.m. to play Arkansas at Florida Ballpark for the series victory.