The No. 14 Florida Gators (28-13) fell to the No. 2 Vanderbilt Commodores (32-7) in their series opener on Friday night 11-7.
Commodores Take Early Lead
After a rain delay pushed back the initial 7 p.m start time, Vanderbilt made quick work in the first two innings. By the end of the second inning, Vanderbilt had taken a 6-0 lead. Commodores catcher CJ Rodriguez put the first runs on the board with a two-RBI single to second base in the top of the first.
Four runs in the top of the second would put Vanderbilt out in front 6-0.
The top of the fourth featured another run for the Commodores with an RBI double from Dominic Keegan. The Gators got on the board for the first time in the bottom of the fourth. A home run from Kris Armstrong gave Florida their first run, 7-1.
Isaiah Thomas knocked one over the center-field fence for an RBI homer that furthered the Vandy lead 9-1.
Florida’s Nathan Hickey advanced Jacob Young home for another Gator run in the bottom of the fifth, 9-2. Hickey finished the night three of five at the plate with one RBI.
Gators Close Gap
Vanderbilt stayed consistent at the plate, knocking in another run at the top of the sixth. Florida responded with a two-RBI double from Kirby McMullen to cut the lead 10-4,
Florida and Vanderbilt shaped runs in the seventh inning. Young homered to left field keeping Florida in the game 11-5.
The Gators tacked on two runs in the bottom of the eighth with RBI’s from Armstrong and Colby Halter. However, Florida’s late-game rally fell short, 11-7.
Franco Aleman got the start on the mound for Florida. Aleman finished the night after five innings allowing ten hits and nine runs while striking out four batters against a strong Vanderbilt team.
The Gators bullpen came in for a strong performance to finish out the game. Ben Specht took the mound for an inning allowing three hits and two runs. Ryan Cabarcas, Chase Centala and David Luethje came in to finish up the last three all allowing zero hits and runs in the final innings.
The Gators and Commodores take the field for Game 2 Saturday night. The first pitch is set for 6:30 p.m. from Florida Ballpark.
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