The University of Alabama baseball team was held to five hits as the No. 5 ranked Florida Gators posted a 7-0 Southeastern Conference win over the Crimson Tide on Friday night at McKethan Stadium. The Tide falls to 25-16 overall and 8-8 in SEC play, while the Gators improved to 29-10 and 12-4 in conference play.
"Overall we were not able to pressure them from the offensive side," UA head coach Mitch Gaspard. "I thought Kilcrease did a nice job in the front part of the game, but due to our lack of offense it's hard to get any momentum throughout the ballgame. Florida had a couple innings in the middle part of the game where they were able to put us away."
Alabama starting pitcher Nathan Kilcrease (5-3) took the loss, throwing 6.0 inning allowing four runs on 10 hits with one strikeout and one walk. UF starter Hudson Randall earned the win and improved to 7-1 for the season. Randall left the game with one out in the seventh inning, allowing no runs while scattering four hits.
All of UA's five hits were singles, as second baseman Josh Sanders paced the Tide with two hits, and was 2-for-3 in his first SEC start. Austen Smith, Jared Reaves and David Kindred all had singles for Alabama.
With three walks, the Tide had eight base runners for the game, but just one of those runners was able to reach third base, that coming in the fifth inning when Reaves walked and advanced to third on a couple groundouts.
"If the ball Reaves hit gets out, it cuts the lead in half and you get some momentum and can get going, but as it was, we didn't get anything out of it," Gaspard added. "We had a couple opportunities with some RBI spots, but we just couldn't deliver with a hit tonight."
UA's Austen Smith singled to lead off the seventh inning and Reaves followed with a drive that was caught at the wall by Florida left fielder Tyler Thompson. The drive by Reaves ended the night for UF starter Randall.
Florida opened the scoring in the third inning when an infield groundout plated Daniel Pigott from third. The Gators extended their lead to 3-0 in the fifth, when Preston Tucker homered over the scoreboard in right field with a runner on, for his third RBI of the game. UF added another run in the bottom of the sixth inning when Nolan Fontana singled for the third time in the game, plating Austen Maddox, who singled to lead off the inning, from third base.
Taylor Wolfe took over for Kilcrease to start the seventh inning and after the leadoff hitter fouled out, Mike Zunino walked and Brian Johnson singled ahead of Josh Adams, who homered to left center to extend the Gators' lead to 7-0.
Fontana was 3-for-4 for Florida, while Tucker was 1-for-4 with three RBI. Brian Johnson, Bryson Smith and Maddox had two hits each for the Gators.
Alabama and No. 5 Florida will continue the three-game series with game two on Saturday with first pitch slated for 5:03 p.m. CT from McKethan Stadium. The game will be televised on ESPN2 with Clay Matvick, Kyle Peterson and Jessica Mendoza providing the commentary. Alabama will send junior lefty Adam Morgan (4-3, 4.12 ERA) to the mound and Florida will counter with sophomore left-hander Brian Johnson (5-1, 2.42 ERA).