GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The No. 5-ranked Florida baseball team erased an early 5-0 deficit by exploding for 10 runs to down Stetson, 10-7, Wednesday evening from Florida Ballpark/McKethan Field.
Florida has now won five straight. The Gators scored 10 runs on 14 hits, recording double-digit hits for the third time in the last five outings.
The Gators spotted the Hatters five runs in the first two innings but climbed all the way back to take a 7-5 lead on the strength of a four-run fifth inning.
Third-year sophomore first baseman Kris Armstrong started the rally in the fifth with a leadoff home run, his second on the season. Third-year sophomore Jacob Young followed up his first home run on the season in the fourth with an RBI double to right-center and then second-year freshman Nathan Hickey roped a two-run single to left.
The Gators started the comeback in the third inning by plating two runs in the frame. Third-year sophomore Jud Fabian scored on an error and then right fielder Kendrick Calilao drove in Hickey on a single to center.
Florida continued to pour it on in the sixth, scoring three more to push the lead to 10-5. Young added another RBI to his stellar evening by driving in Halter on a sac-fly and then Fabian doubled to left-center to score freshman Jordan Carrion. Hickey capped off the scoring with an RBI single to right-center.
Hickey led the Gators with a career-best four hits and added three RBI. A day after seeing his school-record 30-game hit streak come to an end, Young bounced back with three hits, two runs and three RBI.
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Hickey. The backstop boasted a career-best four hits in his five at-bats, driving in three runs. Hickey has recorded three or more RBI three times this season, including a best of six RBI against Samford on Feb. 27.
STANDOUT STAT: 9 – The first four batters of the Florida lineup combined for nine hits on the day. Hickey paced the Gators with four hits from the three-spot while Young tallied three hits at the top of the order.
FROM COACH KEVIN O’SULLIVAN
On the win… “I think every game has its own story. Last Wednesday, we lost 3-2 to FAU and then tonight, it was a totally different ballgame. To fall behind five runs early in the first couple innings, I thought our team stayed into the game and engaged. They had some really good at-bats, even though we didn’t have a whole lot of success against their starter early. We ended up driving up his pitch count quite a bit and got him out of the game probably sooner than he wanted to. I thought offensively we did a really good job tonight. Played really good defense, had a chance to get some other guys in there for good experience. Obviously, I think we got seven pitchers in the game. Pitching-wise, we just had trouble closing out innings tonight. You know, we had four walks through four (innings) and normally, when you walk more hitters than you want to in a mid-week game, you don’t end up winning. It’s the first start for Timmy (Manning) – he’ll get better. I think the biggest thing is just the command. We’ve got some guys at different roles and haven’t started in a while, so this was a good learning experience for them. Everybody kind of chipped in.”
On Nathan Hickey… “He’s been spending a lot of time in early (batting practice) and standing on his legs better. Hitting is a difficult thing to do – arguably one of the toughest things to do in all of sports. It’s an up-and-down thing. You’re never as bad as you think you are when things aren’t going good and you’re never quite as good as you are when things are going better. He’s stayed even-keeled and he’s continued to work. Obviously, the hard work he’s been putting in showed up tonight.”
NEXT UP: Florida will host Jacksonville for a three-game weekend series. The two squads will open the series on Friday, March 12, with first pitch slated for 6:30 p.m.