Photo via SEC Media Portal

Franco Aléman waited until postseason to spin his best game of the season. Aléman cruised through seven shutout innings in leading Florida to the SEC Tournament semifinals. The Gators have won their first three games in an SEC Tournament for the first time since 2000 and will be rewarded with a day off before playing on Saturday.

How It Happened:

For five innings, this ball game was a pitcher’s duel with neither side relenting. Aléman was matched by Alabama’s Dylan Smith.

The Gators finally broke through in the sixth when Nathan Hickey belted a solo homer to straight away center, just left of the 405 foot indicator and off the make-shift batters eye.

Florida tacked on three more runs in the seventh as Cory Acton doubled home Sterlin Thompson. After Acton stole third, Mac Guscette recorded an RBI groundout to increase the lead to 3-0. Jacob Young followed with a solo homer to left and suddenly the Gators were ahead 4-0.

Florida added three more insurance runs in the eighth as Thompson and Acton each recorded RBI singles (Acton’s scored two).

Aléman, however, cruised through seven innings of work, finishing with 92 pitches. Trey Van Der Weide took over in the eighth and immediately retired the side in order.

Despite the 7-0 lead entering the bottom of the ninth, Florida kept their fans on edge.

Jack Leftwich entered on the mound and allowed two runs before forcing a fly out to right by Caden Rose to end the ballgame.

With the win, Florida earns a day off before the semifinals begin on Saturday.

Head coach Kevin O’Sullivan suggested that either Christian Scott or Brandon Sproat would start on the mound. O’Sullivan also iterated that Tommy Mace, Hunter Barco, and Franco Aléman were done for the weekend and wouldn’t see action regardless of availability on Sunday in a potential championship game appearance.

Pitching Decision:

  • W: Franco Aléman (2-4)
  • L: Dylan Smith (1-8)

Individual Stats:

  • Acton: 2-4, 2B, 3 RBI, R
  • Thompson: 3-4, 2B, RBI, 2 R
  • Young: 3-5, HR, RBI, R
  • Hickey: 2-5, HR, RBI, R
  • Aleman: 7 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 4 K, BB

On Deck:

Florida will know their semifinal opponent Friday evening. They will take on the winner of the Tennessee – Alabama game. The game is scheduled for a 1:00 PM start on Saturday and will be aired live on SEC Network.

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