Florida catcher Nathan Hickey arrived at the batter’s box in the seventh inning with a chance to do something he hadn’t done in his collegiate career, record a walk-off base hit to clinch a victory over FAMU. On Wednesday, he did just that, though in a very unconventional way.
Florida head coach Kevin O’Sullivan and Florida A&M skipper Jamey Schoup agreed prior to the game that a ten run lead in the seventh inning or later would result in a mercy rule finish. The two programs decided on this as they both have important conference matchups this weekend. Florida A&M has a four game series against Norfolk State while the Gators are traveling to Knoxville for a meeting with No. 6 Tennessee.
How It Happened:
Florida opened up an early 3-0 lead as Jud Fabian (hitting fifth in the lineup) crushed the third pitch he saw beyond the outfield wall in left, bringing in Kirby McMullen and Sterlin Thompson as well.
The Gators added to the lead in the second when Hickey hit a two-run double down the right field line to make it a 5-0 game.
The Florida offense would stall out for a bit, but the pitching staff kept the Rattlers off the scoreboard.
Freshman southpaw Timmy Manning received the start, but only lasted 2.2 innings due to a lack of control. He walked six batters and threw a pair of wild pitches despite not giving up a base hit. Fellow frosh Chase Centala followed Manning with two innings of work in relief. David Luethje and Jordan Butler combined to toss the final 2.1 innings.
A McMullen single in the sixth plated Jacob Young and increased the lead to 6-0 before the walk-off drama of the seventh frame.
FAMU had an opportunity to get on the scoreboard in the top half of the seventh inning, getting two on via a walk and a single with two outs, but Butler struck out Tucker Rayburn to retire the side.
The Gators scored four runs and saw seven players come to the dish without recording an out. Colby Halter led the inning off with a single to left. A walk to Jordan Carrion followed by Cory Acton being hit by a pitch loaded the bases. Cal Greenfield then singled up the middle to score Halter and Carrion. Two batters later, a passed ball allowed Acton to score and gave Hickey the chance at a walk-off. He sent the ball to the opposite field to score Greenfield to clinch Florida’s twentieth win of the 2021 campaign.
- W: Centala (2-0)
- L: Khalil Wilson (1-4)
- Hickey: 4-5, 2B, 3 RBI
- Greenfield: 2-4, 2 RBI, 2 R
- Halter: 2-4, R
- Young: 1-2, 2 R, 2 BB
The Gators are bussing it up to Knoxville to take on No. 6 Tennessee for a weekend series spanning Friday to Sunday.
The Volunteers are 25-5 overall and sit in second place in the SEC East with a 7-2 conference mark. UT is especially good at home where they have accumulated a 17-2 record. First pitch for Friday’s game is scheduled for 6:30 PM.