Behind eight innings of one-run ball by junior left-hander Corey Littrell (3-0) and a three-run homer by redshirt junior Micheal Thomas, No. 10 Kentucky (16-3/2-1 SEC) downed Florida (9-12/1-2 SEC), 6-2, on Sunday afternoon at McKethan Stadium. The Wildcats claimed the final two games of the weekend to register their first series triumph in Gainesville since 1999 and ended a stretch of four-straight series losses to the Gators.
“I thought [Corey] Littrell did a nice job making some big pitches when he needed to,” head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “In the fifth inning, when we got the lead-off man on, Casey [Turgeon] got to a 3-0 count and the next thing you know it’s 3-2 and you get a big double play there, and I think if we had a different result with Casey’s at-bat there, who knows what could have happened in that inning?
“But, credit Littrell. He’s a really good pitcher, one of the better pitchers in our league, and he obviously showed that today. We got 10 hits on him over eight innings and [Trevor] Gott is one of the better closers in our league and we had some good at-bats. Obviously, we need to bunch them together more and get a big hit here or there, but the approach for us today was better.”
Thomas provided Kentucky with a 3-0 lead in the second inning with a three-run homer to left field. Sophomore Jeff Boehm drew a one-out walk from Eric Hanhold (Palm Harbor, Fla.) (0-2) and freshman Kyle Barrett (1-for-2, two runs) reached on an infield single with a hard single that ricocheted off Hanhold’s glove. Thomas sent the next pitch over the fence in left field for his first round-tripper of the season.
Florida threatened in the bottom of the inning, as senior Vickash Ramjit (Miami, Fla.) reached on a leadoff error by sophomore third baseman Max Kuhn and a two-out single by redshirt sophomore Zack Powers (Seffner, Fla.) (2-for-3) moved Ramjit to third. Barrett made a sliding catch to rob freshman Kevin Stypulkowski (Lake Worth, Fla.) of a single that would have scored Ramjit.
Boehm expanded the Wildcats’ advantage to 4-0 with a two-out RBI double in the third inning. Sophomore A.J. Reed (2-for-5) opened the frame with a base-hit into right field but was erased on a fielder’s choice by Kuhn. Although junior J.T. Riddle (2-for-5) followed with a single into left field on a hit-and-run, Kuhn was gunned down at third base on a relay from sophomore Justin Shafer (Lake Wales, Fla.) to Powers. Boehm plated Riddle with a two-bagger to the base of the wall in left field.
Junior Matt Reida (2-for-4) began the fourth inning with a double into right field and went to third on a grounder by sophomore Austin Cousino (2-for-5). Senior Zac Zellers then singled through the left side of the infield for a 5-0 margin. A single to center field by Reed pushed Zellers to second base and Kuhn fouled out to left field, ending the afternoon for Hanhold (3.2 IP, 10 H, 5 R, 3 K). Junior Daniel Gibson (Lutz, Fla.) took over and had a grounder by Riddle force Reed at second base for the final out.
After the Gators turned an inning-ending 1-6-3 double play in the top of the fifth, Ramjit came through with a two-out RBI single in the home part of the frame for a 5-1 score. Sophomore Connor Mitchell (Tampa, Fla.) (2-for-3) led off with a single into left field but Littrell had sophomore Casey Turgeon (Palm Harbor, Fla.) hit into a 4-6-3 double play. Freshman Harrison Bader (Bronxville, N.Y.) raised his hitting streak to five games with a single to shortstop and advanced to third on a base-hit into right center field by Shafer. Ramjit put the hosts on the board and picked up his 15th RBI of the campaign with a single into left field. Littrell stranded the runners by striking out sophomore Taylor Gushue (Boca Raton, Fla.).
Gibson worked a career-high 3.1 innings without allowing any hits and was replaced by freshman Mike Vinson (Miami, Fla.) with a 2-0 count in the eighth. Barrett earned a free pass and was sacrificed to second by Thomas. Reida singled through the right side to bring across Barrett for a 6-1 Wildcat lead.
Junior Trevor Gott took the mound in the ninth for Littrell, who surrendered 10 hits and one run and totaled seven strikeouts in eight innings of work. Senior Cody Dent (Boynton Beach, Fla.) had a one-out, pinch-hit single into left field and Turgeon singled through the left side for two Gators aboard. After a groundout by Bader, Shafer ripped a base-hit up the middle to narrow UF’s deficit to 6-2. Gott induced a grounder by Ramjit that forced Shafer at second base to complete the contest. Florida held a 13-12 advantage in hits and each team committed one error.
UF returns to action on Tuesday at 7 p.m., when it hosts North Florida (15-6) at McKethan Stadium.
Courtesy of UF Communications