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Jacob Young delivers walk-off win as Florida sweeps Samford

Hunter Barco sets career-high with 10 strikeouts in Gators victory
Hunter Barco walks off the mound after striking out a Samford hitter to end the inning in...
Hunter Barco walks off the mound after striking out a Samford hitter to end the inning in Sunday's series finale.(WCJB)
Published: Feb. 28, 2021 at 8:12 PM EST
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - No. 7 Florida needed all nine innings to pull off the series sweep against Samford, after blowing a four-run lead Sunday afternoon.

The Gators (6-2) trailed the Bulldogs (3-4) 2-0 after the top of the first, but bounced back by scoring three runs in the home half of the inning, and then three more over the second and third innings.

Hunter Barco took the hill for the orange and blue, but got off to a rocky start. He walked the leadoff man, then allowed Samford first baseman Sonny Dichiara to blast a 2-run homer to left-center. After giving up the long ball, Barco settled in and recorded his second strikeout of the inning then got Tyler McManus to fly out to left.

Barco’s teammates knew their pitcher needed some runs and the offense delivered.

After leading off the bottom of the first with a single, Jacob Young stole second. But he would have the luxury of waltz the rest of the way home when the very next batter, Jud Fabian hit a 2-run home run of his own over the wall in left field.

Jordan Butler helped break the 2-2 tie by reaching second on a double, advancing to third on a throwing error by Bulldogs second baseman Brooks Carlson, then getting a free pass to home plate when Samford starting pitcher Zach Hester was called for a balk.

Jacob Young’s rbi double in the second and Colby Halter’s 2-run single in the third inning inflated Florida’s lead to 6-2. But the Gators haven’t been the most reliable team with a big lead this season, and trouble popped up again in this one.

While Barco breezed through the Bulldog order from the second thru fourth innings, he gave up a solo home run in the fifth to make it 6-3. Then, was pulled after giving up 2 more runs in the sixth, which eventually saw Samford tally 5 runs in the frame to give the Bulldogs an 8-6 lead. It was their first lead of the game since going up 2-0 in the top of the first.

But luckily for the Gators, Fabian and Young would salvage a victory from the jaws of defeat.

In the bottom of the eighth, Fabian brought home Halter and Kris Armstrong on a 2-run rbi single to center to tie the game, as the orange and blue faithful were hollering with deafening excitement. Florida tacked on one more run before the end of the inning thanks to Nathan Hickey’s sacrifice that brought Jordan Carrion in from third.

But the drama wasn’t done yet.

In the top of the ninth, Dichiara took his second lap around the bases with a solo blast off Gators reliever Brandon Sproat to tie the game again, 9-9. Sproat composed himself after the homer and escaped the inning only surrendering the lone run.

Florida shortstop Josh Rivera reached on an error to lead off the frame. He was awarded second after Bulldogs reliever Chase Isbell was called for a balk. After Isbell struckout back-to-back hitters, and walked Halter and Carrion to load the bases, Young swung at the first pitch of the at-bat and hit a ball back in to center field to plate Rivera for the walk-off win.

The Gators improved to 6-2 on the season and are currently riding a four-game win streak. Florida will now prepare for its lone game against Florida Atlantic at home, on Wednesday, March 3.

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