The Florida Gators baseball team on Saturday night team weathered multiple rain delays that totaled nearly three hours. However, they couldn’t weather the late runs poured on by the Hurricanes from Miami in a 14-6 loss at Condron Family Ballpark.
Once again, the Gator bullpen struggled as the Hurricanes erased a five-run deficit with a two-run sixth inning and three-run seventh inning. Miami took the lead in the eighth inning behind a home run from Dorian Gonzalez Jr. and added another seven over the course of the final two innings.
Miami’s Blake Cyr plated seven of the Hurricanes’ 14 total runs with three hits and two home runs.
“The bottom line is we got to figure it out,” Gator head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said of the team’s bullpen issues. “We need somebody to bridge the gap because our starting pitcher’s really good. The bottom line is it’s three outs.”
All three of Florida’s losses this season came after blowing at least a three-run lead. The Gators led 6-1 after the fifth inning.
Gators strike first, Waldrep hits new career-high
Jac Caglianone’s first inning two-run home run gave the Gators an early lead that they would carry all the way until the seventh inning. The 356-foot blast over the right field wall was Caglianone’s ninth of the season.
In his third start of the year, Hurston Waldrep pitched six innings with a career-high 14 strikeouts while allowing seven hits and five earned runs.
Down 2-0 in the third inning, Miami’s Carlos Perez sent one just passed the left field fence to put the Hurricane’s on the board. Waldrep would strike out the next two batters before a groundout ended the inning.
Arguably Waldrep’s most clutch innings came in the fourth and fifth frames.
After Miami’s Yohandy Morales and Zach Levenson began the fourth inning with back-to-back base hits, Ty Evans kept Morales at third base with a laser from right field. Waldrep followed Evans’ play up with two strike outs to end the inning.
In the fifth, Waldrep walked Perez and then gave up a base hit courtesy of Renzo Gonzalez. However, with his back against the wall, the right-hander weathered the storm and struck out the next three batters.
Two more strike outs in the sixth inning gave him a new career-high with 14.
Lightning strikes offensively for Gators
After Caglianone’s home run in the first inning, the Gators would fail to plate any runs over the next three innings. However, lightning struck for the Gator offense in the fifth inning with a four-run output.
Michael Robertson led off the frame with a single, and a triple by Colby Halter brought him home to extent the lead. From there, Caglianone once again struck lightning with his second two-run home run to plate him and Cade Kurland. Caglianone’s 10th home run of the season put Florida up 6-1.
Hurricanes make landfall late, plate torrential downpour of runs
Although Florida built a substantial lead, a storm was brewing that Florida could not stop.
Waldrep returned to the mound for the sixth inning, but the success of his previous five innings didn’t carry over. Cyr hit the first of his two home runs on the night, a two-run shot to cut the lead to three.
In the seventh, Waldrep hit the first batter and allowed a single from CJ Kayfus. His night ended, and Nick Ficarrotta took to the mound.
From there, the storm unleashed.
Morales singled to score Edgardo Villegas to cut the lead to two. Two batters later, Ryan Slater took the mound, and Cyr added another RBI with a single to score Kayfus. Slater would give up another run after a wild pitch scored Morales.
“It’s very difficult to make decisions when your bullpen is the way it’s been,” O’Sullivan said.
Florida would have an opportunity in the bottom half of the seventh with two bases-loaded chances. First, Caglianone grounded out into a double play where Halter was called out at home. After Josh Rivera took an intentional walk to re-load the bases, BT Riopelle grounded out to pitcher Chris Scinta to end the inning.
Fisher Jameson took the mound for Florida in the eighth, but immediately gave up a home run to Renzo Gonzalez. After he gave up a single and a double, Clete Hartzog came in to pitch, but he walked Cyr with the bases loaded. Two batters later, Dominic Pitelli doubled to score two.
Florida quickly went from a five-run lead to a 10-6 deficit going into the final frame.
Carsten Finnvold took his turn on the mound for Florida, but like his predecessors, struggled in relief after allowing a sacrifice fly to score one and a three-run home run by Cyr to give the Hurricanes an eight-run lead that they wouldn’t relinquish.
“We’re not asking them to do anything they’re not capable of doing,” O’Sullivan said. “We’ve got no choice but to figure it out. But like I said, just feel bad for Hurston [Waldrep].”
Florida returns on Sunday looking to take the series against the Hurricanes. Caglianone (2-0) will get the start on the mound with first pitch at noon.