For eight innings, the Florida Gators looked like one of the top teams in the SEC by doing exactly what they were supposed to against a good, but not great opponent. Things got a little tight in the ninth, but the Gators came away with a 6-4 win over Alabama to open SEC play on Friday.
Florida was led by an excellent outing from starting pitcher, Hunter Barco. Barco was backed with early run support and went into cruise control from there.
The Gators took a commanding 4-0 lead into the bottom of the second after the Fabian brothers combined for 4 RBI. Deric singled to right center to score Kendrick Calilao and Josh Rivera while Jud homered to the opposite field that also plated his younger brother.
In the third frame, catcher BT Riopelle crushed a 2-2 pitch beyond the wall in right to put Florida up 5-0.
Wyatt Langford scored on an error in the seventh to give Florida a monster lead, however it got much closer than Kevin O’Sullivan and the Gators would have liked in the ninth.
Armed with a 6-1 lead, O’Sullivan went to Nick Ficarrotta for the ninth. Four of five batters that Ficarrotta faced reached base including three singles and a hit batter. He was removed for Blake Purnell, who immediately hit the first batter he faced. Eventually, after three runs crossed the plate, Purnell induced a double play to end the game.
Barco (4-1) was phenomenal as he tossed eight innings and allowed just one run (a solo home run in the eighth) on four hits. He struck out ten and walked none. Barco recorded 11 straight outs after giving up a lead off single on the first.
- Barco: 8 IP, 4 H, ER, 10 K, 0 BB
- Riopelle: 3-5, HR, RBI, R
- Rivera: 2-5, 2B
- W: Hunter Barco (4-1)
- L: Garrett McMillan (2-1)
- S: Blake Purnell (1)
Florida and Alabama will square off in game two of the three game series on Saturday from Sewell – Thomas Stadium in Tuscaloosa. First pitch is scheduled for 7 PM.