HOOVER, Ala. — Florida hasn’t been an easy team on opposing pitchers this season. Blaine Knight hasn’t seemed to notice. The Razorback junior was in cruise control all afternoon on the way to Arkansas’ 8-2 win over the Gators Friday afternoon.
Knight previously threw against Florida when Arkansas traveled to Gainesville in March. Knight outdueled Brady Singer on Friday night to the tune of a 6-3 win. Knight struck out 10 that night over 6.2 innings, giving up three runs.
“He executed pitches down and away to our right handed hitters,” Kevin O’Sullivan said after the game. “We had some scoring opportunities but he made some really good pitches.”
Kowar worked a perfect first inning with his fastball running up to 97 MPH. the junior mixed in his off speed pitches, dispatching of the Hogs in just 12 pitches. The second inning was a different story.
Kowar walked Luke Bonfield and served up a high, 95 MPH fastball to freshman Casey Martin, who demolished the offering. The home run was the third for Martin this tournament and the 13th of the season, tying a freshman record at Arkansas.
Kowar would settle down after that one gaff with just one more blemish to his day. Heston Kjerstad singled to start the frame and Kowar walked Luke Bonfield. Dominic Fletcher drove Kjerstad home with a single and the Razorbacks had runners on first and third with no outs and a 3-0 lead. Kowar got two strikeouts before Jared Gates drove home Bonfield before the Gators got out of the sixth.
Jonathan India launched a solo home run, his team leading 17th of the season, to center field to cut the lead to 4-1. The Gators scored one more in the eighth but it wouldn’t be enough. Two base running errors kept Florida out of scoring opportunities. Jonah Girand was doubled up trying to go from second to third on a shallow ball hit to center field and India go stuck between third and home on a comebacker to the pitcher.
“We made two base running mistakes. We tried to tag on a ball, Jonah (Girand) hadn’t played very much,” O’Sullivan said. “With Fletcher running in he probably should go halfway there. Then with one out India got caught in between.”
Andrew Baker took over for Kowar in the seventh. The sophomore worked himself into and out of trouble in the seventh and eitghth innings before giving up a grand slam that shut the door on any hope of a comeback in the ninth inning.
The loss sends Florida to the loser’s bracket, where they will play LSU again tonight, approximately 30 minutes after Auburn and Ole Miss finish their game, which starts at 4 pm ET.
Freshman Jack Leftwich will start for the Gators tonight. LSU’s has not announced a starter.