The Florida Gators clinched a series win against Siena Saturday night as they run-ruled and shut out the Saints 11-0.
It was just what they needed after having a low-scoring and low-energy affair Friday night in a 3-2 win. Head Coach Kevin O’Sullivan said his team needed to bring the energy and had a talk with them about it before the game.
“They knew the energy wasn’t as good as it should’ve been last night,” O’Sullivan said. “It was a good way to respond.”
Fans could say that translated to their play. The Gators had a combined shutout performance from Hurston Waldrep and Ryan Slater on the mound. They also tallied 13 hits in the game and wrapped it up two innings early.
Gators Bite Early
Waldrep worked a quick first inning, striking out the first batter in four pitches. He followed that with another strikeout and a pop up to send his offense to the plate.
Cade Kurland has been one of the Gators best hitters at the plate, leading the team batting average at .459. He started the rally with a single to right field. Jac Caglianone then belted the first pitch he saw to deep left field, sending Kurland around to score. Caglianone ended up at third and was brought in from Josh Rivera’s RBI single.
Waldrep went on to add two more strikeouts in the second inning. Florida had a chance to multiply its runs in the second as they loaded the bases from three free passes but they weren’t able to capitalize.
Waldrep’s Four Frames
Waldrep faced his first struggles in the third inning. He was relying on his fastball, but kept missing high in the zone. He walked his first batter to start the third and then couldn’t pick up a rolling ball on a sacrifice bunt to his left side of the mound for an error. Siena started playing small ball and laid down another sacrifice bunt to advance the runners. Then, Waldrep issued his second walk to load the bases.
He found groove in his curveball as the Siena batter whiffed on three straight curves to strikeout.
The Gators thought they had its third out as a ball went high to shallow right field just outside the foul line. But, Ty Evans couldn’t see it with the sun and it landed foul. However, Waldrep did get out of the inning and Evans got redemption as he had the putout to end the inning.
Waldrep struck out his seventh batter in the fourth inning and finished his day after that. Due to next week’s series against Alabama starting on Thursday, his pitch count had an extra eye on it.
Waldrep’s final line was: four innings pitched with two hits and no runs allowed. He walked two and struck out seven on 77 pitches, 52 of which were strikes.
Florida Breaks Open the Game
The Gators rallied for seven more runs through the next three innings.
Tyler Shelnut led the third with a walk and Richie Schiekofer doubled to bring him in. He made it too second but was thrown out trying to stretch it to third. 3-0 Gators.
The fourth and the fifth inning added a heavy amount of insurance runs for the Orange and Blue.
Colby Halter led off with a walk and Michael Roberson singled. Kurland followed with his second hit of the night and an error in the outfield scored Halter. Caglianone walked to load the bases and an RBI fielder choice by Rivera scored the fifth run. BT Riopelle followed with an RBI double to score Kurland to make it 6-0 Gators.
Evans singled in the fifth andt advanced to second on an error. Halter than belted a ball to deep right field for a two-run home run. Kurland followed, doubling down the left-field line. Then, two back-to-back errors by Siena would score a runner for the Gators, making it 9-0.
Ryan Slater’s Key Relief, Gators Run-Rule
The bullpen has finally been clicking for Florida recently. Slater came in relief of Waldrep in the fifth and struck out three batters to start his outing.
He’s gained a lot of confidence with his three-pitch mix and has been working more on getting his change-up back to what it was last year.
“Just getting my comfort back really,” Slater said. “From throwing bullpens and scrimmages in the spring, it makes a little difference when you got a crowd and everything so just getting comfortable back on the mound again really.”
Slater provided three quality innings, allowing three hits and no runs with a walk and seven strikeouts in 47 pitches, 33 of which were strikes. He picked up his fourth win of the season as Florida would run-rule Siena.
The second triple of the game for the Gators came off the bat of Evans in the sixth. Shelnut worked a walk and Evans sent his hit to deep right-center to score Shelnut. Halter then slashed his second hit of the game on an RBI single to score Evans. That would cap off Florida’s 11 run game.
Looking for the Sweep
Florida is looking for the sweep on Sunday as two-way player Jac Caglianone will toe the rubber at 1 p.m.