O'Sullivan

Florida coach Kevin O'Sullivan said his team is "trending upward" after sweeping Missouri.

Florida's NCAA at-large hopes were on life support prior to Thursday night's game against Missouri.

With just three regular season games left and the SEC Tournament remaining before the NCAAs, the Gators needed to sweep Mizzou and get a win or two in the SEC Tourney to have a shot.

UF completed the first phase of that plan on Saturday in Columbia, Missouri, edging the Tigers 4-3 and picking up its first road sweep of the season.

"We finally put it all together," coach Kevin O'Sullivan said in a release. "We've been swinging the bats really well all year long, I just wish we would've pitched like this all year long. We probably wouldn't be in the position we're in."

The Gators (33-23, 13-17 SEC) used timely hitting and another stellar performance from starter Nick Pogue to will their way to the one-run victory.

Pogue pitched 5.1 innings, holding the Tigers (34-21-1, 13-16-1 SEC) to no runs on three hits during that span. He has been tough to hit over the last three games he's started, going 1-0 with a 0.57 ERA. His six strikeouts on Saturday marked a career high, as well.

Florida's bats put the team up in the top of the second as two Gators crossed the plate.

Third baseman Cory Acton scored first baseman Kendrick Calilao with an RBI double, then second baseman Jacob Young's RBI groundout brought in Acton from third to give UF a 2-0 lead.

In the next inning, the Gators added one more when, with runners on the corners, designated hitter Nelson Maldonado hit a fielder's choice that let shortstop Brady McConnell score from third base.

UF held that lead until Missouri rallied in the bottom of the seventh, scoring three runs of its own to tie the game.

An RBI single and an RBI groundout narrowed the gap for the Tigers before shortstop Chris Cornelius tied the game with his own RBI single, scoring second baseman Paul Gomez.

In the top of the eighth, Florida catcher Brady Smith stepped into the batter's box hitless with two strikeouts on the day. He delivered during that at-bat though, smacking a 1-0 pitch to left for an RBI double that scored left fielder Austin Langworthy.

Reliever Christian Scott held it down from the mound for UF during the final two innings, preserving the lead and clinching Game 3 for the Gators.

UF has now swept Mizzou for the fourth year in a row, and at a time it desperately needed it.

"We're trending upward," O'Sullivan said. "We play a difficult schedule, and I think you should be rewarded for that…We've had to grow up this year…Like I said, everybody feels like they should be in, but I do believe the way we're playing right now, if we can find our way into a Regional, we'd be tough to handle."

Follow Evan Lepak on Twitter @evanmplepak. Contact him at [email protected]

Evan Lepak is a Sports Journalism student at the University of Florida, currently covering UF baseball. He's also covered both UF cross country and UF swimming and diving. He has been with the Alligator since Summer 2018.