Colombia, MO –– The Gators traveled to the far off land of Missouri this weekend and put together one of their best team efforts of the season. The pitching staff showed just how good they can be on the way to a three game sweep of the 22nd ranked Tigers.
Game one started off as a defensive struggle through the first three innings before Mizzou took a single run advantage in the bottom of the fourth. That lead wouldn’t hold for long however, as the Gators’ Cory Acton and Jud Fabian each demonstrated their long ball skills in the top of the fifth.
Both Gators drove in two runs with equally impressive homeruns, giving Florida a 4-1 lead over the home team. Brady Smith made his way home by way of a wild pitch in the top of the sixth inning, and the Gators lead increased to four.
Tommy Mace earned the game one win, improving to 8-4 on the season, but not before a big rally by the Tigers. With the bases loaded in the seventh, Mace walked a runner home before getting the second out via strikeout. Jordan Butler completed the game from there and earned the save with a final score of 5-4.
The second stanza was a masterful performance by sophomore pitcher, Jack Leftwich. Not only did Leftwich pitch a complete game, but he stoned the Tigers offense in the process.
The Mizzou lineup managed just two hits on the evening, while Leftwich hurled nine strikeouts in his first career shutout.
Game two was truly a pitcher’s duel, as TJ Sikkema allowed only three hits. Fortunately, Florida was able to get the most out of those limited base opportunities.
Brady McConnell reached base by way of an error, and Austin Langworthy followed up with a frozen rope out of right field, making it 2-0.
With Leftwich’s stellar performance, two runs was more than enough to take game two.
On Saturday afternoon, the Gators completed the sweep and extended a four year long, twelve game winning streak over the Tigers. Although Nick Pogue started for the Gators, he handed the ball over to Christian Scott in the fifth with a 3-0 lead, and it was Scott who earned the win. For his part, Pogue delivered five and one third innings, no runs allowed, and six strikeouts.
The Gators got on the board early when Kendrick Calilao singled and Cory Acton doubled off of the wall in right center field. The center fielder misplayed the ball allowing Calilao to come home. Acton scored moments later on a groundball from Jacob Young.
Brady McConnell took a walk to start the third inning and then turned on the jets to find third base after an Austin Langworthy single. Nelson Maldonaldo drove McConnell in with a grounder, making the score 3-0.
Not one to simply roll over, Mizzou put on their rally caps in the seventh inning when they tied the game at three a piece on the strength of a string of singles, including the game tying RBI from Chris Cornelius.
Brady Smith and Austin Langworthy fended off the Tigers’ threat in the top of the eighth when Langworthy’s left field double drove Smith home for the go ahead run.
Christian Scott staved off the Mizzou offense the remainder of the game, before handing it off to Jordan Butler for the save.
The Gators won by a final score of 4-3, improving their conference record to 13-17 just before the beginning of the SEC tournament next week.
Florida will open SEC Tournament play with a matchup on Tuesday against No. 6 seed Texas A&M.
It’s possible the Gators have done enough to earn an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, but a few wins should solidify their resume.
See our feature previewing the SEC Tournament coming Monday evening.