Following a dismal series opener Thursday, the Gators rebounded to defeat No. 2 Arkansas 7-2 Friday.
Brandon Sproat (W, 4-3) pitched well to earn the win while Blake Purnell (S, 3) was able to close out the final 3.1 innings to save the bullpen for Saturday’s series finale.
The Gators got on the scoreboard early and often and established a 5-0 lead before the first three innings were complete.
Florida took a 1-0 lead on a Sterlin Thompson sacrifice fly to center. Thompson appeared to have a home run robbed but was able to bring in Jud Fabian who doubled and reached third after a passed ball. One pitch after the theft, Florida RF Wyatt Langford sent a wind-aided shot to the opposite field that just snuck over the right field fence to put the Gators on top 2-0.
Florida added to its lead in the second as the first four batters reached base. Deric Fabian drew a walk to plate Kendrick Calilao and Colby Halter followed with a sacrifice fly to right center that scored Josh Rivera to increase the advantage to 4-0.
In the third, a BT Riopelle solo homer put the Gators on top 5-0.
That was more than Florida needed on this night as Sproat threw a gem to build on a solid outing at Georgia a week ago. Sproat threw his curve ball as well as he ever had and kept a really good Razorbacks lineup at bay.
Arkansas did get on the scoreboard in the fifth inning. However, despite back to back fielding errors, Sproat was able to recover and retire the side before extensive damage could be enacted.
While that sequence was likely the biggest key to the win, Florida’s ability to rebound and score two runs in the bottom half of the fifth was almost just as important. Far too often during the Gators’ six SEC games losing streak, the levee would crack and the team came up with no answers, allowing for a huge inning and never recovering.
After a two out single in the sixth, head coach Kevin O’Sullivan went to the bullpen and brought in work-horse reliever Blake Purnell. The sideaemer navigated the situation and ended the inning before closing out the game, as well.
- Langford: 2-4, HR, RBI, 2 R
- Riopelle: 2-3, HR, 2 RBI, R
- Sproat: 5.2 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K
- Purnell: 3.1 IP, 3 H, 1 ER
- W: Brandon Sproat (4-3)
- L: Hagen Smith (5-2)
- S: Blake Purnell (3)
Florida and Arkansas will complete its series Saturday. First pitch is slated for 1:00 PM. Florida has not announced who will be the starter with O’Sullivan saying it’ll be one of three guys, without naming those three.