It marks the 11th-straight season that head coach Kevin O'Sullivan's club has been ranked during the preseason in the nation's oldest college baseball poll, which began in 1959. Courtesy: Daniel Apple

Gator Baseball Edges Out Vanderbilt in Extras

The Florida Gator baseball team (22-14, 6-9) avoids the sweep against the Vanderbilt Commodores (25-10, 7-8) on Sunday by winning 4-3 in extra innings. They now return home to face Stetson on Tuesday.

Fabian Brothers Push Gators Past Vanderbilt

The Gators offense in the first two games of the series scored the first run, but in both of them they lost. However, Florida finally got over this hump.

This Florida team came out firing in the first inning with four straight singles resulting in an early 1-0 lead. They scored one more run in the first on a fielders choice by BT Riopelle to make it 2-0.

The second inning would be a quiet one for Florida, but the third was a loud one for Jud Fabian. Fabian came to the plate with one out and no one on base, but that did not matter as he sent a ball over the left-center field wall to push the lead to 3-0 over Vanderbilt.

However, after the third inning the Florida offense calmed down. They would almost score another run in the sixth when BT Riopelle had a triple. Unfortunately for Riopelle, he got thrown out at home trying to make it an inside-the-park home run.

It looked like the Gators had the game won but in the bottom of the ninth, Vanderbilt hit a game tying two run homer to send the game into extra innings.  It brought to the plate the bottom of the order for the Gators in the 10th inning.  And again, the Gators used the long ball to score with a Deric Fabian long-shot over the left field wall. This run gave them a 4-3 advantage heading into the bottom of the 10th and, despite an error that put the winning run at the plate, the Gators held on for the win.

On the day, Jud and Deric Fabian combined for three of the four runs scored for Florida and went 3-for-9 at the plate.

The Gators outhit the Commodores in the game nine to five. Additionally, it only struck out seven times, three less than the Commodores.

Gators Bullpen Makes it Scary, but Gets the Job Done

For the second straight SEC series, Brandon Neely began on the mound for Florida on Sunday. Neely provided a positive start for Florida against Vanderbilt by not allowing any runs in the first four innings. Moreover, he only had two batters get a hit in these four innings. Still, Vanderbilt’s offense would not be down for much longer. In the fifth, Vanderbilt finally got on the board with homer to left field. This cut the Gator lead to 3-1.

Neely did not let this affect him too much though. He pitched through the next inning and a third before being taken out.

His final line would be 6 1/3 innings with seven strikeouts, three hits, one run and one walk.

Tyler Nesbitt came in the seventh to be Florida’s first and only pitcher out of the pen. Nesbitt got the next seven batters out without any hits, but the next two after that would be a much harder challenge. He got the first two outs in the bottom of the ninth with a 3-1 lead and all he needed was one more. But a single and then a game tying home run sent the game to extras.

In the 10th, Nesbitt had another lead and a chance to win it for the Gators. Once again, Nesbitt got the first two batters out in the inning. Unluckily for him, his defense supplied a base runner for the Commodores with a throwing error to first base to make it a little worrisome for the Gators. He then moved this runner to second on a balk and, by doing this, put a runner in scoring position. This time, though, Nesbitt did not let him go any further after the next batter hit a game-ending groundout to give Florida the 4-3 win.

Florida only needed two pitchers to win this game on Sunday. Neely and Nesbitt combined to throw 10 total innings and struck out 10 batters. Also, they only gave up five hits and just two walks.  Next up the Gators return home to face Stetson on Tuesday before hosting number one Tennessee in a big three game series.

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