Jac Caglianone high-fiving his teammates after hitting his second home run of the season against USF. Photo via. @gatorsbb on Twitter.

Florida Baseball Opens Weekend with Win Over Cincinnati

The Florida Gator baseball team on Friday night opened up the second weekend series of the season with a 13-6 win over Cincinnati at Condron Family Ballpark.

The Gators, now 5-1 on the season, scored at least one run from the second inning to the eighth inning behind home runs from Cade Kurland, who plated three total runners in the game off three hits, and Jac Caglianone.

Brandon Sproat got the start on the mound and recorded a career-high nine strikeouts in 89 total pitches. In five innings pitched, he allowed four hits and three earned runs.

Early bombs put Florida up quickly

It didn’t take long for the bats to get hot for the Gators.

In the bottom of the second, Kurland launched one 410 feet out of the park to plate two runs. The true freshman, who reclassified to enroll at Florida a year early, now has two home runs on the season.

“It was awesome,” Kurland said. “First time getting around the bases with the lights flickering. It was truly amazing.”

An inning later, Wyatt Langford walked, and Caglianone brought him home with a 417-foot home run to right field, his third home run in as many games.

The Gators scored two more runs in the fourth inning behind a Ty Evans RBI single and a bases-loaded walk from BT Riopelle, giving them a 6-0 lead halfway through the game.

Bearcats Claw Back

Down big to start the fifth inning, Cincinnati did not go down without a fight.  The Bearcats began to cause issues for Sproat, who hit back-to-back batters to begin the inning. Left-fielder Kerrington Cross plated both runners with a two-run double down the left-field line.

Three batters later, Ryan Nicholson cut into the lead with a solo shot to centerfield, making the score 6-3. Sproat recorded his career-high ninth strikeout to conclude his night in the fifth inning.

“I felt good going into the game. Had a hiccup there in the fifth [inning],” Sproat said. “It’s frustrating, but we put it past us. We’ll learn from it.”

Late runs extend the lead, relief pitching struggles

In the fifth inning, Langford knocked a two-run double off a missed pop-up at third base, scoring Colby Halter and Tyler Shelnut, but poor relief pitching by the Gators kept Cincinnati in the game.

Ryan Slater took the mound in the sixth inning and walked three of his first five batters. He hit his sixth batter faced, JP Sponseller, with the bases loaded to give the Bearcats one more run.  The bats continued to stay hot for the Gators with another Evans RBI single, this time scoring Halter, and a two-run single by Riopelle scoring Evans and Langford.

Slater continued to struggle in the eighth inning by allowing two doubles, including an RBI double from Sponseller and two walks. An earlier ground out resulted in a run.  Florida’s Richie Schiekofer provided the game’s final RBI with a single to score Kurland, putting the score at 13-6.

Although Gator coach Kevin O’Sullivan was pleased with Sproat and the team’s hitting, he admitted that the team’s relief pitching was not up to standard.

“The disappointing part is the bullpen,” he explained. “I think overall, we had eight walks and two hit by batters; That’s 10 free bases, which we never do, and I’m not quite sure what the reason is for that right now, but we got to do a better job out of the pen for sure.”

In 2.2 innings of relief, Slater allowed two hits and three runs, all of which were earned, while walking four batters. He added two strike outs. Tyler Nesbitt pitched two-thirds of an inning and walked two batters. Blake Purnell finished the game by pitching two-thirds of an inning and struck out one batter with no baserunners allowed.

Up next

Florida looks to take the series on Saturday at 4 p.m. The will be without centerfielder Michael Robertson, who suffered a knee injury in the first inning of Friday’s game.

“We gotta figure out what we’re going to do with the lineup with Mikey out,” O’Sullivan said. “Obviously, I’d like to keep Wyatt (Langford) and Jac (Caglianone) back-to-back. We’ll figure it out.”

Right-hander Hurston Waldrep (1-0, 3.60 ERA) will get the start on the mound for the Gators.

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.

Check Also

Gators take on NC State in CWS Elimination Game

The Florida Gators look to stay alive in the College World Series, taking on NC …