Gators sweep fifth consecutive series against Mizzou

Zach Abolverdi
Gator Sports
Florida infielder Jordan Carrion with the throw to first for the out Saturday against Missouri at Florida Ballpark.

The No. 18 Gators won both ends of a doubleheader Saturday, beating Missouri 8-6 and 6-4 at Florida Ballpark for the fifth consecutive series sweep against the Tigers. 

Florida (25-11, 9-6 SEC) now owns its first five-game winning streak since March 10. 

"We did just enough to win all three games," UF coach Kevin O'Sullivan said. "We’ve got some things we obviously need to improve on, but at this point in the season when you’re finding ways to win even when you don’t play the cleanest of games, it's important for your team’s character and mental development.”

The Gators rallied from a 5-0 deficit to take the first game, scoring five in the fifth to go up 6-5 with singles by Kirby McMullen and Josh Rivera (go-ahead 2 RBI). The two teams traded runs the following inning, and after a 27-minute delay over a lineup dispute, Florida’s Jacob Young provided some insurance with his RBI single in the eighth. 

In game two, Jud Fabian scored on a wild pitch after his double and Colby Halter singled to right center to give the Gators a pair of second-inning runs. They added three more in the seventh to extend their lead, including RBI singles from Kendrick Calilao and Rivera. Calilao singled again with his next at-bat to plate Young. 

Game 2 reliever Jack Leftwich and Game 3 starter Hunter Barco combined for six consecutive scoreless frames, as Barco allowed just one run in a career-high 6.1 innings (93 pitches) with five strikeouts, five hits and three walks. 

Pitcher Tommy Mace retired the first three batters for Missouri (11-23, 4-11 SEC) on Saturday, but then gave up five runs in the second. He responded with three consecutive 1-2-3 frames and struck out six in 5.0 innings (93 pitches), yielding six hits, six earned runs and a walk. 

Leftwich took over for Mace in the sixth and tossed four hitless innings with two strikeouts. In his last eight frames against Florida State and Missouri, Leftwich has allowed no hits or runs with nine total Ks. 

The Tigers scored in the third on Torin Montgomery’s single, but Barco bore down and surrendered one hit over the next three innings. Montgomery homered off UF reliever Trey Van Der Weide in the eighth and Mizzou added two ninth-inning runs, but couldn’t cut the deficit past that as Van Der Weide picked up his first save of the season.

"I think Jack and Christian [Scott] were outstanding this weekend," O'Sullivan said. "The bullpen was outstanding, but at some point you'd like to settle on three starters. I thought Tommy rebounded really well after the second inning and put up a bunch of zeros after that. He was much better.

"I thought Hunter wiggled out of some situations early in the game and only gave up the one run. After that, he was really good. I thought his command was probably as good as it's been all year long. He pitched into the seventh and I thought Trey was great. Got the big double play to end the inning."

Missouri’s Spencer Miles struck out no Gators in Game 2, giving up four runs, three hits and three walks in 4.0 innings. Missouri’s third starter, Zach Hise, allowed six hits and two runs with a walk and strikeout in five frames. For the first time in an SEC series this season, UF registered double-digit hits against the Tigers in all three games. 

"Obviously it was good to see, but I've always thought we were going to be a good offensive team," O'Sullivan said. "The second game we got into quite a few 2-0 and 3-1 counts and we didn't cash in. But other than that, I thought we were really good offensively."

Florida has won 15 games in a row against Mizzou, including 12 straight at home. The Gators will hit the road this week, traveling to Jacksonville on Tuesday before a weekend series at Auburn.