The Florida Gators Baseball team celebrates its win over Auburn to even the series. Photo via @GatorsBB on Twitter.

Gator Baseball Beats FSU Behind Strong Pitching, Evans’ Clutch Hitting

Fresh off the bench and in front of a crowd of 7,441, Ty Evans stepped into the batter’s box with the third-ranked Florida Gators baseball team down 3-2 in the eighth inning to rival Florida State.

The wind had not been in any of the batter’s favors as both teams combined for nine hits to that point. Additionally, six of their eight innings had been scoreless.

Facing a 1-1 count with two runners on and two outs, FSU pitcher Doug Kirkland hung a slider, and Evans a smacked a three-run home run to the left field berm, giving the Gators a 5-3 lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

“Every college baseball player kind of dreams of that kind of moment,” Evans said after the win. “Just to be able to help put our team in a spot to win games. It’s huge no matter what game you’re playing, but obviously against Florida State, it’s a little more exciting.”

With the win, Florida claimed the season series against Florida State and has now won 21 of their last 25 matchups. The Gators previously defeated the Seminoles 9-5 on March 21 in Tallahassee.Β  The 2023 Sunshine Showdown concludes on May 2 in Jacksonville.

Early defensive dominance

Pitching dominated early for both teams. In his second start of the season, Ryan Slater pitched six innings for Florida with one strikeout while giving up five hits and two earned runs. He retired his first six batters faced in only 15 pitches, and five of his six innings pitched were scoreless. However, it wasn’t just his pitching that kept the Seminoles at bay.

Jac Caglianone added a diving stop at first base to begin the third inning to keep FSU off base. Jordon Carrion knocked the first hit of the game, but the Seminoles weren’t able to score him.

However, Florida State had its own dominance on the mound.

Ben Barrett retired nine of his first 11 batters he faced with two strikeouts. After Colby Halter walked to put the first baserunner on for Florida in the third inning, Matt Prevesk hit into a double play. Michael Robertson recorded Florida’s first hit of the night with a single but was stranded on base.

Florida, meanwhile, continued its stellar defensive play in the fourth inning behind a 4-6-3 double play followed by a diving stop by Halter to keep the game scoreless.

Noles take lead

Florida State ended the scoring drought in the sixth inning behind a single, two doubles and an error to plate three runs.

Carrion recorded his second hit of the night to lead off the inning and advanced to second off a passed ball. DeAmez Ross doubled in the next at-bat to score Carrion and put the Seminoles on the board.

An error by Josh Rivera allowed Jaime Ferrer to reach first, and a double from James Tibbs scored Ross and Ferrer. The Seminoles quickly turned a no-score game to a 3-0 lead.

The Gators bit into the Seminoles lead in the bottom half behind a RBI single from Rivera, but Florida couldn’t plate any more despite a runner in scoring position with only one out.

Gators chomp back

Florida had plenty of opportunities to plate runs late in the game but struggled to bring them home.Β  In the seventh, Halter singled to put a runner in scoring position, but a fielder’s choice put the runner out at third. Two batters later, Wyatt Langford walked to load the bases, but Caglianone grounded out to first to end Florida’s chances that inning, and all momentum seemed to be on the Seminoles’ side.

Meanwhile, Cade Fisher took the mound in relief and did his part by retiring all six batters faced in the seventh and eighth innings. He earned his third win of the season.

“Kind of gets lost in the shuffle there a little bit is Cade Fisher,” Gators head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “He keeps the game right there, 22 pitches over two and obviously, gives [Brandon] Neely a chance to close it out.”

In the eighth, the Gators continued to get on base, and the runs finally came with them. Rivera and Luke Heyman walked to put two on and a ground out put both in scoring position. From there, an error at second base off a pick-off attempt allowed Rivera to score, and made it a one-run game.

Halter walked to put runners on the corners, and with two outs and the game on the line, Evans gave the Gators their first and only lead with his 357-foot home run.

Now with a 5-3 lead and all the momentum on their side, Brandon Neely took the mound in the ninth and shut down the Seminoles with three strikeouts to end the game.

Up next

The Gators resume conference play on Friday night for the start of a three-game series against Georgia at Condron Family ball park. First pitch of Friday’s series opener is at 7 p.m. with television coverage on SEC Network+ and radio coverage on WRUF.

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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