Photo courtesy of @GatorsBB via Instagram.

No. 2 Gators Baseball Shuts Out Florida A&M to Open NCAA Regional Play

No. 2 Florida baseball shut out Florida A&M in the opening round of the Gainesville Regional on Friday with a 3-0 victory over the Rattlers. The Gators got the win in front of 7,367 fans, the largest postseason crowd in program history.

Grand Rivera

Florida junior shortstop Josh Rivera gave the Orange & Blue an early lead, hitting his 16th home run of the season with a two-run shot to left. The Gators got out in front 2-0 in the bottom of the first. The home run allowed Rivera to set a new program record for the most home runs in a single season for a Gators shortstop. Rivera previously tied for the record with Brady McConnell.

Gators Dominate Atop The Mound

Florida two-way star Jac Caglianone got the start on the mound for the Gators. Caglianone threw six innings of  shutout ball, allowing just four hits and three walks, striking out seven batters with a total 95 pitches and 64 strikeouts.

“Jac was outstanding tonight,” Gators baseball head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said of Caglianone during the postgame press conference. “He kept his pitch count down for the most part and got us through six… Three of his last four starts have been outstanding. People tend to focus on the negative more than the positive and everybody was focused on his start last Saturday. Trust me, if I didn’t think he was going to go out there and give us a good effort, I wouldn’t have started him.”

Florida right-handed pitcher Ryan Slater took over on the mound for the Gators in the seventh inning. All it took was 15 pitches to get six outs. Since the redshirt sophomore threw an efficient two innings, he will be available to pitch in relief for the Gators on Saturday.

Sullivan continued to commend Florida’s pitching efforts against the Rattlers, offering praise of Slater’s growth.

“I just said this to the other coaches, but where Ryan Slater started and where he is now coming off the injury, he was outstanding,” he said. “He looked comfortable, he was poised and he kept his pitch count to 15 pitches and got six outs…The pitching overall was outstanding tonight.”

In the bottom of the eighth, the Gators found a much-needed insurance run from Florida freshman Luke Heyman, who hit a clutch RBI single. With a 3-0 lead, Florida would look to its closer, Brandon Neely, to earn his 11th career save.

Florida Offense Struggles

Florida’s pitching carried the Gators over a struggling offense. However, Florida could not find its rhythm at the plate, recording just five hits and leaving seven runners stranded over eight innings.

“The bottom line is we are going to have to generate offense in a different way than we have all year,” O’Sullivan said. “We may need to be a little more aggressive in some areas… but a win is a win this time of year. It is not anything to get upset about or overanalyze. It is just one of those games and hopefully our players learn from it and come out more aggressive tomorrow. As simple as that.”

Up Next

The Gators will take on Texas Tech at 6 p.m. Saturday at Condron Family Ballpark. Additionally, Texas Tech will be the home team and Florida will play as the away team.

About Ellie Shreve

Ellie is a third-year sports and media journalism major at the University of Florida.

Check Also

SEC Media Picks Florida To Finish 12th

Florida is picked to finish 12th in the conference according to a preseason poll of …