Skip to content Skip to sidebar Skip to footer

The Florida Gators are playing their best baseball at just the right time.

Franco Alemán took the mound Saturday and shoved a scoreless seven innings at the Tide, while the Gators’ bats got the job done to give Florida its first 3-0 start in the SEC Tournament in 21 years with a 7-2 win over Alabama.

The game began with Alemán and Alabama starter Dylan Smith locked in a duel. Alemán allowed a single in the first but navigated around that then did the same in the second inning after hitting the leadoff batter. The Tide were able to get the lead off runner on base in four of the first six innings but Alemán was able to continue to put zeroes on the board.

Smith matched Alemán’s brilliance for five innings. The right-hander scattered five his through his first five innings of work and kept the Gators off balance.

“We started off slow with the bats at the beginning, and we all had really good ABs,” Sterlin Thompson (3-4 on the day) said. ” By the second go-round, we got his pitch, his fastball. We started jumping on it. The second round, second ABs, we started having multiple hits and getting runners on and having good two-out hits.”

Nathan Hickey kicked things off with a solo home run to dead center field in the sixth inning. Hickey’s home run broke up the tie and ignited the Florida offense.

The Gators put up a crooked number in the seventh inning.

Thompson led off with a double and moved to third on a long fly ball from Josh Rivera. Cory Acton drove Thompson home with a double and then stole third. The steal proved timely, as Acton was able to score on a groundout to shortstop, making the score 3-0. Jacob Young hit his second home run of the tournament with two outs to give the Gators a 4-0 lead.

“He’s everything you want in a player that you’re coaching. He’s a great student, and he makes all the right decisions off the field. But as far as a baseball player, he really sets a good example for the younger players,” Kevin O’Sullivan said of Young. “He’s a team player, number one, and he always gives good efforts on the field. He only knows one gear, and like I said, he’s the epitome of what you want in a player in a program like ours, and he certainly sets the example that way.”

Florida tacked on three more runs in the eighth inning.

Thompson had an RBI single and Acton drove in two with a single of his own to make the score 7-0.

Alemán would finish his day with just four strikeouts but was in control for the entire night.

“I think the story for us today was Franco Aleman and the start that he gave us. I felt like he pitched really good last weekend at Arkansas, and he certainly built off that today,” O’Sullivan said. “There’s a reason we kept him in the rotation as long as we did because we figured if we had a chance to do what this team ultimately wants to do, he was going to have to be one of our three starters.”

Trey Van Der Weide and Jack Leftwich finished off the game with Leftwich allowing two runs, one earned, in the ninth inning.

The win over Alabama sends Florida to the SEC Tournament semifinal. The Gators will be off on Friday and will play the winner of Tennessee and Alabama on Saturday.

As much as O’Sullivan and the Gators would love to win the SEC Tournament the NCAA Tournament is more important. With that in mind Tommy Mace, Hunter Barco, and Franco Alemán are all done for the week.

“The three starters have certainly got their work in. We would not use any of those starters again in this tournament and give them a breather and let them get ready for the regionals,” O’Sullivan said. “We haven’t really decided who we’re going to start yet on Saturday, but we’ve got some other guys that need to pitch, and some guys that haven’t been on the mound in quite some time.”