Gainesville, FL (UofA) – The No. 2 Florida Gators evened up the series with the No. 4 Arkansas Razorbacks on Saturday, scoring 12 runs in the first three innings and then five more in the sixth, to take the 17-2 victory at McKethan Stadium.
Razorback starting pitcher Isaiah Campbell struggled from the onset allowing a career-high five earned runs in one-plus innings. It all started with two lead off walks to start the game, followed by a Wil Dalton single to load up the bases. Two batters later, Jonathan India hit a grand slam to make it 4-0, sending the Gators (20-5, 3-2 SEC) off and running.
The one inning pitched by Campbell was the shortest start of his career, as he gave up four hits to 11 batters faced. He struck out two marking his sixth-straight start with two or more strikeouts. He was saddled with the loss to fall to 2-3 on the year.
At the plate, Arkansas (17-5, 4-1 SEC) managed eight hits in the game, three coming in the fourth inning, which was when the Hogs scored their only runs. Freshman Heston Kjerstad turned in a 2-for-4 game, his eighth multi-hit game of the year, tying for the team lead. Junior catcher Grant Koch hit his fifth home run of the season in the fourth inning to avoid the shutout, a two-run shot for his only hit of the game and sixth multi-RBI game.
Kjerstad has had a heck of a week going back to Wednesday’s midweek game at Charlotte. In his last three games, the Amarillo, Texas native is 7-for-11 (.636) at the plate with five RBIs, three home runs, and only one strikeout.
Arkansas utilized three more pitchers in relief of Campbell on Saturday as freshman Caleb Bolden gave up three runs in one inning, followed by sophomore Jacob Kostyshock, who played the long game, went 3.2 innings, allowing five earned runs and striking out two. Freshman Zebulon Vermillion, who had only given up one earned run in his last 2.2 innings, pitched the final 2.1 innings of the game, allowing just one earned run and striking out a season-high four batters.
Florida starting pitcher Jackson Kowar earned his fourth victory of the year after throwing six innings and striking out six, while only allowing the two Arkansas runs.
The rubber match between the fourth-ranked Razorbacks and second-ranked Gators is set for Sunday morning in Gainesville. Left-hander Kacey Murphy will take the mound for the Razorbacks and he’ll go up against Florida right-hander Tyler Dyson. First pitch will be at 11 a.m. CT in McKethan Stadium and will be televised nationally on the SEC Network.