Florida baseball: Three takeaways from UF's 6-4 loss at Kentucky
Florida's slim SEC title hopes are still alive despite a 6-4 loss at Kentucky on Friday night.
With Vanderbilt rallying for eight runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to beat Arkansas 10-8, the Gators (41-13, 19-10 SEC) remain a game behind Arkansas (39-14, 20-9 SEC) and a half game behind LSU (42-12, 19-9 SEC) for the overall conference lead. Florida can still take a share of the title with a win Saturday against Kentucky, an Arkansas loss at Vanderbilt and an LSU loss at Georgia.
The Gators has their modest four-game win streak snapped as they were unable to solve Kentucky starter Zack Lee (5-3), who allowed three runs in five innings and struck out six to earn the win. Darren Williams struck out the side for Kentucky in the ninth to earn his second save.
First baseman Jac Cagliaone gave Florida an early 3-1 lead in the third with his NCAA-leading 28th home run, a two-run opposite field blast. But Kentucky rallied back to tie the score at 3 on solo homers from designated hitter Reuben Chruch and shortstop Grant Smith in the fourth inning.
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The Wildcats then scored three more times in the fifth inning off UF starter Brandon Sproat. With two outs in the fourth, catcher Devin Burkes laced an RBI double down the left field line to put Kentucky up to stay 4-3. Later in the inning, Church belted a two-RBI single to center to give the Wildcats a 6-3 lead.
Here are three takeaways from the loss:
A rough outing for Brandon Sproat
Sproat (7-3) took the loss, lasting just 5 innings. He allowed six runs on seven hits with two walks, two hit batters and seven strikeouts to go over 100 strikeouts for the season.
Sproat struck out the side in the second inning and worked out of trouble in a scoreless third inning before unraveling in the fourth and fifth innings. Of Sproat's 94 pitches, 57 were for strikes. Sproat also uncorked a wild pitch in the fifth. moving runners up to second and third, which set up Church's two-RBI single.
Wyatt Langford still raking
Langford belted a solo homer in the top of the first to put the Gators up 1-0 and added another solo shot in the sixth to cut Kentucky's lead to 6-4.
Langford recorded his eighth-career multi-homer game and with 16 home runs on the season moved past Cade Kurland (15) for second on the team behind Caglianone.
Bottom of Florida's order failed to produce
Florida's 7-8-9 hitters -- designated hitter Luke Heyman, third baseman Dale Thomas and center fielder Michael Robertson -- went a combined 1 for 10 with six strikeouts.
Thomas, who was inserted in the lineup at third base ahead of Deric Fabian and Colby Halter, had a single in the top of the seventh to put runners at first and second with one out. But Robertson failed to advance the runners, striking out with two runners on. Kurland also struck out with the tying runs on base, ending UF's last scoring threat.