Scott Stricklin

Gator Baseball Run Rules CSU to Start Season

In front of a crowd of 5,924 at Condron Family Ballpark, the number seven Florida Gators baseball team kicked off its 2023 campaign on Friday evening with a 13-3 win against Charleston Southern.

A 10-run mercy rule, which was agreed upon by both coaches pregame, ended the game in the seventh inning after BT Riopelle hit a base hit to score Josh Rivera. The run rule will be in effect for the entire weekend series.

Additionally, Riopelle claimed the Gators’ first home run of the season with a three run blast to right-center field to put the Orange and Blue up 3-1 in the first inning. He finished the game with three hits in five at-bats and five RBIs.

Meanwhile, Brandon Sproat got the start on the mound and pitched 5.2 innings. In 95 pitches, he recorded seven strikeouts.

“I don’t think me or the coaches were expecting me to throw that much,” Sproat said.

First inning frenzies for Florida

It only took Sproat three pitches to strike out the first batter he faced, which included a 100 mph pitch to start the game. However, his second caused some issues. CSU center fielder Ike George walked, stole second and ran to third after a wild pitch. Jaylin Rae’s sacrifice fly scored George to put the Buccaneers up 1-0. Sproat added his second strike out to end the inning.

“Of course, there was a little [jitters],” Sproat said. “Not necessarily it being Friday, but it being opening weekend. Everyone had them. Just got to fight through them.”

Wyatt Langford picked up right where he left off after a strong season in 2022 with a triple for the Gators’ first hit of the season. Two batters later, Josh Rivera walked following a pitch clock expiration.

From there, Riopelle stepped in the batter’s box and only needed one pitch to put the Gators’ on the board with a three run home run. The first dinger of the season went 396 feet and was 110 mph off the bat.

“That was huge,” Tyler Shelnut said. “[Riopelle] is an exciting guy. He plays with emotion, so it forces us to play with emotion as well.”


Welcome to the show, kids

In their first plate appearances as Gators, Shelnut and Michael Robertson each recorded a hit. Shelnut hit a double in the second inning, and Robertson brought him home with a base hit to put Florida up 4-1.

Shelnut, a transfer from Santa Fe College, finished the night with two hits in tw0 at-bats with one walk and one RBI, a double in the fifth inning. Robertson, a redshirt freshman from Venice, Florida, recorded one hit in three at-bats.

“It felt real good,” Shelnut said of his first hit. “I’ve waited a long time for that one.”

Gators shine in middle innings

Eight of Florida’s 13 runs were scored in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings.

Wyatt Langford walked with the bases loaded to score Deric Fabian. Right after, Rivera hit an RBI single to score Shelnut to put the Gators up 7-1. In the fifth inning, Shelnut recorded his first RBI as a Gator with his second double of the night to score Ty Evans.

The Gators’ largest scoring output came with a four run sixth inning. Jac Caglianone recorded his first hit of the season with a RBI single to score Langford. After another Rivera hit, Riopelle recorded his fourth RBI of the night with a double, scoring Caglianone. Evans finished the high-scoring inning with a two run single.

With the run-rule within reach in the seventh inning, Riopelle got his fourth RBI of the night, scoring Rivera and ending the game.

Weekend schedule

The Gators return to the field Saturday afternoon for the second game in the opening three-game series against the Buccaneers. Southern Miss transfer Hurston Waldrep will get the start on the mound with first pitch at 4 p.m.

Florida wraps up opening weekend on Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. Caglianone will start on the mound.

About Cam Parker

Cam is a fourth-year broadcast journalism sports and media major at the University of Florida. In addition to writing and recording radio trendings for WRUF, Cam covers North Florida HS football for The Prep Zone and Mainstreet Daily News and UF football and basketball for Inside the Gators.

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