Photo by Anissa Dimilta

Gators Baseball Falls Late to Vanderbilt

The Florida Gators (21-13, 5-8) dropped game one of the series to the Vanderbilt Commodores (24-9, 6-7) 5-4 on Friday with a walk-off single in the ninth. They will go into tomorrow hoping to even the series up. Game two will begin at 7 p.m.

Offense Sputters Late for the Gators

The Gators started the game off strong against Vanderbilt. After a leadoff-walk put Colby Halter on first base, Jud Fabian made his way to the plate. Working his way to a full count, he finally saw the perfect pitch to swing at. On this 3-2 pitch, Fabian hit his 14th homerun of the season to put them up 2-0.

While they did start strong, they cooled off over the next two innings. They did not have any hits in the second and third innings, but this changed in the fourth.

Vanderbilt managed to tie this game in the second, but Florida took back their lead again in the fourth. Wyatt Langford led off with a double to right-center field and eventually made his way around the bases with a double down the line from Kendrick Calilao.

Langford did not stop there. Coming to the plate with runners first and second and two outs, he had another chance to score a run for the Gators in the fifth inning. Langford would punch a ball through the right side of the infield to bring home the runner on second base, putting Florida up 4-2.

Although Vanderbilt tied the game at four apiece, Florida had another chance to regain their lead in the seventh. They had runners on first and second with just one out, but the next two hitters could not score either of them. This would be their last chance to score in this ball game with them not being able to get a runner in scoring position in the eighth or ninth inning.

As a whole, it had six total hits compared to the 12 for Vanderbilt. It did earn six walks but struck out 10 total times in this game. The Gators offense had a positive start in this game, but, ultimately, it fell off late resulting in a loss.

Gator Pitching Cannot Keep Vanderbilt Quiet Long Enough

Florida gave Hunter Barco the start on Friday against the Commodores. However, he only got through two innings with Head Coach Kevin O’Sullivan citing that he looked tired and he had been under the weather leading up to this game. O’Sullivan had to quickly turn to the bullpen, bringing in Nick Ficarrotta. Ficarrotta came in looking confident on the mound. He navigated his way through three scoreless innings (Third, Fourth, Fifth) before finally getting into some trouble. The first two batters in the sixth inning got on base and then were moved over on a sacrifice-bunt from the next batter. This is where Ficarrotta’s night would end.

For the last two outs of the sixth inning, Florida used two pitchers. They put Philip Abner in first and he got the second out via a sacrifice fly that scored one run. Ryan Slater would be the other pitcher used in the sixth. He did get out of the inning with a strikeout, but not before they tied the game up. Slater allowed the other base runner to score on a wild pitch that evened the game at 4-4. He only got two outs in the seventh and then they would turn to reliever Blake Purnell.

Purnell came up huge for Florida in the eighth inning. With two runners on and two outs, he struck out the final batter of the inning to keep the game tied at 4-4 heading into the ninth.

However, Purnell would lose the game in the bottom of the ninth. He began the inning by giving up a leadoff single and then the base runner stole second shortly after. The next batter would reach base on an error, which forced Florida to intentionally walked the following batter. Then, to end the night, he gave up one final single that ended the game and gave Vanderbilt the 5-4 win.

On the night, the pitchers gave up 12 total hits to the Vanderbilt offense. They also walked four batters in this game. While they had their moments throughout the game, it was not enough as Vanderbilt walked it off in the ninth.

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