Gators bounce back with a well-rounded effort to even series vs Kentucky

After a heartbreaking loss to start the weekend, the Gators bounced back to even the series, defeating No.4 Kentucky 10-1 in game two. Florida improved to 26-24 (11-15 SEC) on the 2024 season.

The Orange and Blue received a quality start from freshman right hander Liam Peterson, who tossed six innings of one run ball, allowing five hits and two walks while striking out six.

Florida’s offense exploded once again, plating 10 runs on 12 hits while leaving the yard three times. In 18 innings at the plate vs Kentucky, the Gators have scored 21 runs and combined for 26 hits.

The Gators found dominant relief pitching from redshirt junior RHP Ryan Slater, who tossed three perfect frames as the only other Florida pitcher to take the mound.

“That’s kind of how you draw it up,” head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said postgame. “You got six innings out of your starter, managed some innings with runners on. I think that’s where the biggest improvement he’s [Peterson] made over the last month or so, slow the game down where he has to get in the stretch with runners on. And then Ryan came in and did his thing, threw the ball across the plate. That’s kind of how you draw it up. It was one of the cleaner games we’ve played in some time.”

Production at bottom of order

Florida’s 7-8-9 hitters combined for five hits, three runs, two RBI, and reached base nine times on Saturday.

Dale Thomas, who had just one at bat in the last three weeks entering the weekend, logged his 4th and 5th hit of the series in game two while reaching base four times. On the weekend, Thomas is 5-7 (.714) at the plate with three RBI, two walks, two runs scored.

“It meant a lot,” Thomas said on getting another chance. “It’s not really a big deal to me. I just want to go out there and win no matter what, if I’m on the bench or in the field, it’s not really a big deal to me, but coming out there and being able to perform my best in front of the wonderful fans we have in possibly my home series here.”

“Having a good mental side of things, being clear in your head, trying to remind yourself of what type of player you are and who you want to be for the team,” Thomas said on staying consistent while not playing. “I haven’t performed like I wanted to this whole entire year, I accept that, it’s completely on me. It doesn’t change the fact that I go out there and try to work and compete and try to win every single time.”

Looking ahead to Sunday

Florida will take on Kentucky in Sunday’s rubber match for the series. The Gators have played well in game three’s this season, holding an 8-3 record on series finales this season.

“We’ve got a lot to play for and a chance to win the series tomorrow,” O’Sullivan said postgame.

After starting off SEC play with three straight SEC series wins, the Gators have lost five straight. If Florida can win tomorrow and take a road series from No.15 Georgia, they will put themselves in a great spot for an NCAA Tournament bid.

“We’ve shown the ability to play with some of the best teams in the country, but then turn around for whatever reason and take a step back,” O’Sullivan said on Saturday. “I firmly believe if we can get into a Regional we can do some damage…but we have to get there first.”


Nick Marcinko
Nick is a recent graduate from the University of Florida with a degree in Telecommunications. He is passionate about all sports but specifically baseball and football. Nick interned at Inside the Gators and worked part time with Knights247 before joining the Gator Country family. Nick enjoys spending his free time golfing and at the beach.