SEC Baseball
Florida vs. Auburn Photo by Lorenzo Vasquez/UAA

Home Runs Galore as Gator Baseball Blows Late Lead Against UGA

The bats cracked and the Gators crashed as Georgia upset the third-ranked Florida baseball team 13-11 on Friday night at Condron Family Ballpark behind a seven-run ninth inning.

Georgia’s Connor Tate tied the game with a 365-foot grand slam to left field, and the Bulldogs took an 11-10 lead behind a Parks Harber RBI ground-rule double three batters later.

Tate’s grand slam was the third grand slam in the game. Florida had two players hit a grand slam for the first time since March 3, 2019.

Gator freshmen Cade Kurland and Luke Heyman each hit their second grand slam of the season. Kurland’s 397-footer put the Gators ahead 5-3 in the third inning. The freshman infielder now has 10 home runs on the season to go with 38 RBIs. Heyman’s gave the Gators a 10-4 lead in the sixth inning.

On the mound, Florida starter Brandon Sproat pitched seven innings with eight strikeouts while giving up three hits and four earned runs. Florida’s Friday starter pitched six scoreless innings in the game.

However, Florida’s bullpen struggled once again. Philip Abner and Brandon Neely combined to allow seven earned runs and nine hits in 1.1 innings of work.

“You could see it in their faces, they’re disappointed,” Gator coach Kevin O’Sullivan said.” “Brandon [Neely] has been so good for us the entire year. That’s part of being a closer. You’re going to have nights where you’re not going to do as well as you want, but most of the time he’s done everything we’ve asked him to do.”

Meanwhile, Georgia’s Charlie Condon shined at the plate with three home runs for five total RBI’s; his three home runs tied a Georgia school record.

Gators answer after UGA takes lead

Georgia struck first with a three-run third inning to take an early lead.

Sproat walked Fernando Gonzalez to begin the inning, and a fielder’s choice mistake by Sproat put runners on the corners. Ben Anderson grounded out to Sproat to score the game’s first run.

Two batters later, Condon hit the first of his three home runs to put the Bulldogs up 3-0.

Despite the deficit, the Gators chomped into the Bulldogs’ lead in the third inning and eventually took their own lead.Β Wyatt Langford walked, and Jac Caglianone singled to put runners on the corners. Josh Rivera plated Langford on a sacrifice fly to put the Gators on the board.

From there, the Gators loaded the bases after BT Riopelle was hit and Luke Heyman drew a walk. Kurland’s no-doubter grand slam in the next at-bat put the Gators up 5-3.

Dawgs bite back, Gators chomp big

Both teams were held from scoring in the fourth and fifth innings, but the bats came alive in the sixth.

Georgia cut into the lead after Condon’s second home run of the night made it 5-4. However, the Gators answered once again with a five-run inning.

With runners on the corners, Rivera knocked in his second run with a RBI single.

After Riopelle walked to load the bases, Heyman smacked his second grand slam of the season to put Florida up 10-4.

Condon added his third home run of the game, a 446-foot two-run blast, in the eighth inning to make the score 10-6.

Gators collapse in the ninth

From there, the wheels fell off for the Gators. Neely took the mound for the save and gave up three-straight singles before recording an out. With a 1-1 count, Tate stepped up for the Bulldogs and tied the game with his grand slam.

Neely intentionally walked Condon, and Corey Collins reached base on a fielder’s choice in the next at-bat. Three pitches later, the Bulldogs retook the lead off of Harber’s ground-rule double.

Another single two batters later by Cole Wagner gave Georgia a two-run lead, and Neely’s night was over. Tyler Nesbitt took the mound, and Georgia plated one more off of a sacrifice fly from Fernando Gonzalez.

Florida would have a final chance in the bottom frame after Michael Robertson doubled, Langford walked and Caglianone was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Rivera plated his third run of the evening with a sacrifice fly.

Riopelle was hit for the third time of the night to reload the bases with two outs, but Heyman struck out to end the game.

Next up

The Gators and the Bulldogs will meet again on Saturday for game two of the series. First pitch 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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