JJ Schwarz had two hits and two runs scored to help the Gators beat the Auburn Tigers at the SEC tourney. Brad McClenny/Staff Photographer/file
UPDATED: 2:43 p.m. HOOVER, Ala. — Top-seed Florida got some payback against eight seed Auburn early Thursday morning with a 5-4 win in the second round of the SEC baseball tournament.
The Gators (41-15) will return to Hoover Met Stadium at noon Friday against Mississippi State, which defeated Arkansas 4-3 on Thursday. Auburn (35-23), which swept the Gators to start the league season in March, will play an elimination game against Arkansas later Thursday. All games are on the SEC Network through Saturday.
“I’m glad that we get to have a day off tomorrow (today), and that we are assured two more games in this tournament,” UF coach Kevin O’Sullivan said.
The rain-plagued tournament had the Gators and Tigers begin play at 10:45 p.m. ET Wednesday, with the game ending at 2:05 a.m. ET.
After the Gators went up 5-4 in the bottom of the eighth inning, UF closer Michael Byrne set the school record with his 14th save of the season, striking out two.
“Michael Byrne, what a great story,” O’Sullivan said. “He broke the school record tonight with his 14th save and we had no idea he was going to be our closer until about a month into the season.Congratulations to him.”
The Gators took a 1-0 lead in the third inning by welcoming the return of catcher Mike Rivera from a broken hamate bone injury that sidelined him since April 11. Rivera reached when his pop fly was dropped for a two-base error. Deacon Liput drove in Rivera with a single.
Florida went up 4-0 in the fourth inning with three runs. JJ Schwarz started it with a double and scored on Jonathan India’s single. Christian Hicks then hit a RBI double and scored on a Mark Kolozsvary single.
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