Kevin O’Sullivan said the Arkansas Razorbacks outplayed his ballclub in every facet of the game on Friday night and he made his team aware of that.
The Gators wouldn’t let their coach say it again on Saturday.
Florida’s bats exploded for 17 runs Saturday to even the series against No. 4 Arkansas 17-2, much to the delight of starting pitcher Jackson Kowar who is enjoying an average just shy of nine runs a game this season.
“It felt like last year, it was a day game and we were scoring a ton of runs,” Kowar said after the game. “It was fun to watch those guys hit and exciting to see them get it going today.”
Kowar started with two quick outs but walked the next two batters he faced before getting out of the first inning. He wasn’t sharp early on but his offense made it easy.
Deacon Liput led the game off — a lineup change made on Saturday — and drew a walk. Nelson Maldonado followed suit and a single from Wil Dalton loaded the bases. After a JJ Schwarz strikeout Jonathan India came to the plate sitting on a fastball.
He guessed right.
India lined a ball into the right center gap and watched it fly into the visitor’s bullpen for a grand slam, the first of the junior’s career.
“I was just sitting fastball, it was a good pitch. He’s a good pitcher,” India said. “I was just looking exactly where he threw it.”
Kowar sat the side down in order in the second and Florida’s bats went back to work. They scored two runs in the second and six in the third. The third started in the same fashion as the first inning with a two straight walks. Austin Langworthy singled home India. Keenan Bell doubled to plate. Liput and Dalton each kept it going and Florida’s lead grew to 12-0 before the third inning ended.
Kowar gave up a two-run home run to Grant Koch in the fourth but that would be it for the Razorbacks offense.
“It comes down to the players playing and I thought they came out today with tremendous focus after a tough loss yesterday,” O’Sullivan said. “Obviously the big swing by Jonathan there in the first inning was good for us. We kind of needed that because last night was a tough loss.”
The 17 runs are the most Florida has ever scored against Arkansas and the 17-2 loss is the worst SEC loss for Arkansas since 1998.
The Gators (20-5, 3-2 SEC) and Arkansas (17-6, 4-1 SEC) will play a rubber match to decide the series on Sunday at noon. The game will be broadcast on SEC Network.
Deacon Liput Note
The junior shortstop started the season off slow. Liput was suspended for the first 14 games and then went 0-11 before collecting his first hit. Liput went into the Gators’ game Wednesday hitting just .161 (5-31). He strung together a hit in each of his next six at bats, then 10-of-12 to bring his average up to .341 (15-44).
Jonathan India Note
India currently has a career-best 10-game hitting streak. In those 10 game he’s hitting .594 (19-32) with 12 RBI, 5 HR, 3 2B, 3B, 5 BB 1.219 SLG / .659 OBP.
#Gators put a whoopin’ on No. 4 Arkansas on Saturday…these highlights will be fun to watch!
— Gators Baseball (@GatorsBB) March 24, 2018