For the second consecutive night, the BatCats were blown out at home. #1 Florida (34-7, 14-3) dominated #6 Kentucky (25-14, 7-10) 9-4 on Friday night to win the series after winning 11-2 last night. The Gators hung four runs on Sean Hjelle as they improved their SEC record to 14-3 in 2018.
Will Dalton drove in six runs for the Gators, including a three-run triple and a three-run home run. UK’s offense had no response for Dalton and the powerful Florida offense. The Cats hit 2/10 with runners on and hit 1/10 with runners in scoring position in tonight’s loss.
The woeful performance at the plate meant that Hjelle had no run support on the mound. Hjelle allowed four early runs but bounced back to retire 14 of the next 15 batters he faced. Hjelle exited after allowing four runs on four hits and three walks in seven innings of work. Tonight marked the fifth time in six SEC games that Hjelle had allowed four runs in a start.
Hjelle gave way to reliever Jimmy Ramsey to start the eighth inning. Ramsey’s struggles from Tuesday’s loss at Louisville continued as Dalton drove a three-run home run out of the Cliff against the freshman reliever.
Kentucky scored one in the bottom of the eighth before UF went to Michael Byrne to close out the game. Byrne had allowed only three runs all season, but the Cats rallied against him late. Behind a two-run home run by Kole Cottam, UK cut into the Gators’ lead in the ninth inning. But it was too little, too late. Byrne was able to get Luke Heyer to pop out to end the game and give Florida a series win with a 9-4 victory tonight.