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The Gators found a lot more offensive success in Game 2 against Arkansas on Friday night than they did in Thursday night’s 6-1 loss in Game 1, and their pitching staff did a much better job of keeping the No. 1 Razorbacks lineup at bay. That was enough to carry a 3-2 lead for most of the game, but UA tied the game on a solo homer in the eighth. It appeared the game may be heading to extras, but a walk-off for Arkansas in the ninth inning ended any hope at an upset in the series. The Gators dropped Game 2 by a 4-3 margin.

Arkansas pitcher Caleb Bolden made just his third SEC start of the season, and Florida (35-18, 17-12 SEC) took advantage of his inexperience early. Jacob Young hit into a groundout on the first pitch of the game, but on the next at-bat, Nate Hickey hit a deep single that landed just inside the first-base line. A strikeout from Jud Fabian put two outs on the board, but cleanup hitter Kris Armstrong hit a double to deep right field that just barely snuck in fair, putting runners at second and third.

Kendrick Calilao came up clutch once again, hitting a line-drive single into left field that scored both Hickey and Armstrong, thanks to an errant throw home. Kirby McMullen struck out swinging after that, but not before Florida took an early 2-0 lead, matching its hit total from Game 1 in the first inning.

Florida’s Hunter Barco, on the other hand, had no such issues in the first inning. He had two strikeouts and some help from McMullen, who went into the stands to snag a foul ball from a glove-wearing Arkansas fan. UF’s offensive onslaught continued at the top of the second, as Sterlin Thompson led off with a solo homer to give the Gators their third run of the game. The Razorbacks (41-10, 21-8 SEC) had a reliever start warming up in the bullpen, but Bolden recovered, striking out the next three batters.

Barco got a third strikeout to start the bottom of the inning, but the lefty let one hang a little too much for Christian Franklin, who absolutely destroyed a ball that flew over the right-field wall for his 12th home run of the season, cutting Florida’s lead to two runs. Barco let it carry over to the next at-bat, walking a batter on a full count after throwing four-straight balls.

Two balls to start the following at-bat resulted in a mound visit from Kevin O’Sullivan, which didn’t help much as Barco allowed Robert Moore to advance to second on a wild pitch and issued another walk on a full count. After hitting Casey Opitz in the foot, Barco had loaded the bases. He forced a lineout from Jalen Battles, but that allowed Moore to tag and score. Barco managed to preserve the lead, though, striking out Braydon Webb to finally escape the inning.

Both pitchers calmed down after a disastrous second inning, retiring the respective sides in order in the third. Bolden’s streak of eight-straight Florida batters came to an end in the eighth when he gave up a four-pitch, two-out walk against Thompson, but nothing came of it as Josh Rivera hit into a groundout to end the inning.

Arkansas managed to get its second hit off Barco in the bottom of the fourth when Cullen Smith hit a two-out single, but a flyout from Opitz ended the threat. Despite the solid recovery, Bolden’s game ended after those four innings. He allowed four hits and three runs, but he did manage to strike out seven Gators batters. However, he left freshman Peyton Pallette to dig out of a one-run deficit.

Pallette retired his first two batters, but he couldn’t stop Hickey from getting his second hit of the game on another single to a similar spot in right field. Fabian managed to end a streak of six-straight strikeouts since the series began, but not in the form of a hit. He cracked a deep fly ball to center field that was easily fielded, ending the threat.

Barco put two on at the bottom of the fifth with a single and a walk, but he got out of the inning without putting any more runs on the board. Pallette had a rough start to the sixth, giving up a leadoff single to Armstrong.

But apparently due to injury, Pallette had to exit the game after just one inning and 24 pitches. Caden Monke came in for his 23rd appearance, and he immediately forced a double-play from Calilao and a strikeout from McMullen to end the inning. At the bottom of the frame, Barco continued his solid work. Smith reached base on a two-out single on a ball that probably should have been fielded by Fabian, but a flyout on a deep ball bailed him out and ended the inning.

Florida got a challenge going at the top of the seventh, as Monke led off with a walk against Thompson. He strung together back-to-back strikeouts after that, but a single into left field from Young put two on for Hickey. The power hitter couldn’t come through, however, as Monke earned his third strikeout of the frame to end the threat.

Barco’s night came to an end after the sixth in favor of Jack Leftwich, but it was one of his best starts of the year, allowing four hits and just two runs while striking out eight batters. Leftwich started strong, putting away his first two batters, but a single to center field from Matt Goodheart on a 10-pitch at-bat put the tying runner aboard. But a flyout ended the inning and kept the lead intact. Monke remained formidable, though, striking out the Florida side in the top of the eighth.

Leftwich looked sharp at the bottom of the frame, earning strikeouts on his first two at-bats. But he made a mistake against Moore with a 2-2 count, and he made Leftwich pay with a solo shot over the right field wall that tied the game.

National ERA leader Kevin Kopps, who threw a hitless three innings in Game 1, entered for the Razorbacks at the top of the ninth and was dominant yet again. He nearly put McMullen on base with a hit-by-pitch to lead off the inning, but upon review, the call was overturned. McMullen struck out, as did the next two Florida batters, and the game went to the bottom of the ninth still tied.

Leftwich couldn’t get the game to extras, though. He gave up a leadoff double to Opitz, and Thompson couldn’t handle the ball in right field which allowed him to advance to third. Leftwich forced a shallow foul-out to get one away, but pinch hitter Charlie Welch put it away with a deep double that went over the head of Fabian, walking it off.

Kopps earned the win for his one inning of work, moving his record to a perfect 10-0 on the year. Leftwich, who gave up four hits and two runs in 2 1/3 innings, took the loss, dropping his record to just 7-4.

Though the Gators can’t secure a series win (or a first-round bye in the SEC Tournament) in the regular-season finale on Saturday, a victory over the top-ranked team would go a long way in securing UF’s NCAA Tournament seeding.