BT Riopelle celebrates at home plate with Josh Rivera, Jac Caglianone and Cade Kurland after his seventh inning grand slam against the Vanderbilt Commodores on Thursday. Photo courtesy of Emma Bissell.

Riopelle Powers Gator Baseball Past Commodores

Behind a powerful night at the plate from BT Riopelle, the Florida Gator baseball team topped the Vanderbilt Commodores 6-3 in Hoover on Thursday at the SEC Tournament.

Riopelle came up big for the Gators for the second straight night at the SEC Tournament. Against the Commodores, Riopelle hit a pair of home runs, including a grand slam, and racked up five RBI.

Florida also got a solid performance on the mound from Brandon Sproat. Sproat threw six innings against the Commodores and tallied up six strikeouts while giving up just two earned runs.

Gators use a pair of HRs to jump out in front an early

The night did not start the best for Sproat. Vanderbilt’s Enrique Bradfield Jr. swung at a first-pitch fastball, resulting in a triple. Then, the following batter brought him home on a ground out; this gave the Commodores a 1-0 lead in the top half of the first.

Florida had a chance to answer in the bottom of the first, but could not find the one hit they needed to bring in any runs. They loaded the bases with a double from Wyatt Langford, a walk and a hit-by-pitch. However, the final batter of the inning struck out.

Although, in the following inning they got the run. Leading off the inning, Luke Heyman sent a pitch to the deepest part of the ballpark and over the wall to tie the game at one apiece.

And in the fourth inning, the Gators took the lead on their second long ball of the night. For the second night in a row, BT Riopelle would hit a home run to right-center field, and this one gave his team a 2-1 lead.

Commodores fight back

Unfortunately for the Gators though, they gave up their lead in the following inning. In the top of the fifth, Vanderbilt moved a runner all the way to third base with two outs. Then, they brought him home on an RBI single through the left side that tied the game up 2-2.

Vanderbilt almost took the lead in the sixth inning as well. The Commodores had bases loaded with two outs, but grounded out to the pitcher to end the inning.

Riopelle keeps his bat hot, hits second HR of the night against Commodores

For the second time on the night, BT Riopelle hit a homer against the Commodores. Riopelle came up to bat with bases loaded and two outs in the seventh and mashed a ball over the left-center field wall that gave Florida a 6-2 lead over Vanderbilt going into the eighth inning.

Vanderbilt did get one of those runs back with a home run in the top of the eighth that cut the Florida lead to three runs. However, that was the final run for the Vanderbilt in this game.

For the final three innings, the Gators used three arms out of the bullpen. They began with Cade Fisher and Ryan Slater in the seventh. And Slater was the one who continued through the eighth inning. To begin the ninth, the Gators brought out their final arm of the bullpen, Philip Abner, to close the game. He completed his save opportunity by striking out all three batters he faced in the ninth to give the Gators a 6-3 win over the Commodores.  Florida is back in action at the SEC Tournament on Saturday.

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