It took until after 2 a.m. Eastern for Arkansas to stage its upset of Florida on Wednesday-turned-Thursday at the 2015 SEC Tournament.
Given a chance at revenge on Friday, the Gators wasted no time getting it.
Florida pounced on Arkansas starter Dominic Taccolini for a run in the bottom of the first, then tagged him and reliever Lance Phillips for five more in the bottom of the third, and cruised to a 10-0 victory via the SEC Tournament's run rule after seven innings.
Seven Florida batters recorded hits in the onslaught — and the two that didn't, Harrison Bader and Jeremy Vasquez, still drove in runs, Bader with a sacrifice and a hit by pitch and Vasquez with a rare RBI grounder into a double play. Bader was the only Gator with multiple RBI, while Buddy Reed failed to knock in a run, but set the table beautifully for the rest of Florida's lineup, going 3-for-3 and also reaching on a walk.
But the really impressive aspect of Florida's evening was starter A.J. Puk's outing against Arkansas, which battered Gators pitchers for seven runs and 10 hits on Wednesday. The sophomore fireballer was filthy on this evening, throwing his first complete game shutout in orange and blue while striking out 11 batters — at one point recording nine outs in a row with strikeouts — and scattering three hits. No Arkansas runner advanced past second, and just one Hogs batter escaped the evening without fanning against Puk.
The victory, coupled with some substandard performances by other teams in the running for national seeds in conference tournaments this week, likely seals Florida's fate as a national seed in the coming NCAA Tournament.
But Florida's seeding was always going to be more or less favorable, thanks to its rugged non-conference schedule (and fine performance) and its success in the brutal SEC. Having Puk pitching at this level, one equal to — or arguably better than — the steady high-water mark of ace Logan Shore, could go a long way in the NCAA Tournament.
And with this Puk toeing the rubber, the Gators could, too.