Both suffering through some midseason struggles, Florida Gators baseball and softball each won their respective three-game series over the weekend. No. 4/4 Florida baseball (28-9, 11-4 SEC) won two of three in Athens, GA, while No. 10/10 softball (37-7, 13-6 SEC) swept a three-game road series in Auburn, AL.
Coming off a hard-fought 3-1 loss to Florida State, the Gators were faced with the tough test of facing another rival on the road just a few days later. Florida rebounded, defeating the Georgia Bulldogs 5-4 in Friday’s contest behind a solid effort from sophomore right-handed pitcher Hudson Randall (6-1). Randall allowed three runs (two earned) but tossed 6.1 innings for UF before giving way to three relievers. Sophomore left-handed pitcher Steven Rodriguez came through with his second save of the season after striking out the final batter. Sophomore shortstop Nolan Fontana (2-5, R), junior right fielder Preston Tucker (2-4, RBI, R) and junior left fielder Daniel Pigott (2-3, RBI) each connected twice, but sophomore first baseman/reliever Austin Maddox (3-4, 2 RBI, R) led the way offensively with a two-RBI single to center in the sixth.
The Gators were not as lucky Saturday, falling 7-2 to the Bulldogs after junior RHP Anthony DeSclafani (4-2) blew a 1-1 tie in the eighth inning. Relieving sophomore LHP Brian Johnson (6.0 IP, 4 K, ER), DeSclafani got one out before walking the next batter, giving up two hits and intentionally loading the bases before being pulled. Senior second baseman Josh Adams (3-3, BB) hit two singles and a double but his teammates were never able to capitalize.
Wrapping up the series, Florida watched as Tucker took over Sunday’s contest with an absolutely explosive performance. Down 7-6 to Georgia through six innings, UF jumped on the back of Tucker, who came through in the clutch. He hit home runs in back-to-back innings in one of the best performances all season for the Gators. Tucker (2-4, 6 RBI, 3 R) hit a two-run moon shot in the seventh and grand slam in the eighth to propel his team to a 14-7 victory over the Bulldogs (19-18, 9-6 SEC).
Freshman RHP Karsten Whitson
(5.0 IP, 5 K, 3 ER) got the start but lost his opportunity at a win when junior LHP Alex Panteliodis
coughed up four earned runs on four hits without recording a single out in his relief appearance. Junior RHP Greg Larson
(1-1), pitching the final 3.2 innings of the game, recorded the win striking out one and scattering five hits. Other top-notch offensive performances came from Fontana (1-3, RBI, 2 R, 2 BB), sophomore catcher Mike Zunino
(3-4, 3 R, BB), Maddox (3-4, RBI, 2 R, BB) and DH Johnson (3-4, 3 RBI, R).
Rebounding from a six-game losing streak with seven-straight wins, Florida softball outscored the Auburn Tigers (32-12, 11-9 SEC) 35-10 over the weekend beginning with an impressive 14-4 victory early Saturday.
Freshman RHP Hannah Rogers earned the victory in a complete game performance due to an impressive rally by her offense over the final four innings. Down 4-1 through three, the Gators scored 13 runs in the last four frames including five in the seventh. Junior center fielder Michelle Moultrie (2-5, 3 RBI, R), senior LF Kelsey Bruder (2-4, HR, RBI, 2 R), senior 1BMegan Bush (2-3, HR, 3 RBI, 2 R, BB), senior C Tiffany DeFelice (1-3, HR, 2 RBI, 2 R, BB) and freshman SS Cheyenne Coyle (2-2, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 4 R, 2 BB) all showed major power with a combined five home runs.
Coming back out for the second game of the Saturday doubleheader, Florida saw the return of ace senior RHP Stephanie Brombacher. Out since March 12 (bicep), Brombacher (15-0) did not throw her normal complete game effort but earned the win by striking out four and only allowing one earned run in 4.2 innings. Rogers (S2) got the save while Bruder (2-5, HR, 2 RBI, R), sophomore RF Brittany Schutte (3-3, R, BB), Coyle (2-3, HR, RBI, 2 R, BB) and sophomore designated hitter Kelsey Horton (2-2, RBI) did the heavy lifting for the team offensively.
Rogers (22-5) completed the weekend with two victories and a save, earning her second win Sunday in yet another complete game performance. The Gators’ bats were alive once again as the team connected for eight total home runs. Senior 2B Aja Paculba (2-5, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 2 R), Bruder (3-4, HR, 2 RBI, 2 R), Schutte (2-4, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 2 R), DeFelice (1-3, HR, RBI, R, BB), Horton (1-4, HR, 2 RBI, R) and freshman third baseman Kasey Fagan (2-4, HR, RBI, 2 R) all connected to earn Florida the series sweep.
Bruder ended the weekend 7-13 with three homers, five RBI and four runs, while Coyle was an outstanding 5-7 with three homers, five RBI, seven runs and five walks.