UF's Jac Caglianone (14) runs to second base during the Gators game against St. John’s at the Condron Family Ballpark in Gainesville, Fla., Friday, February 16, 2024. (Lee Ann Anderson/WRUF)

Gators Look to Bounce Back Against UNF

The No. 4 Florida Gators travel to Jacksonville on Tuesday to open a two-day midweek series against the UNF Ospreys.

This will be the first meeting between Florida and UNF this season. Last season, the Gators defeated UNF in both meetings, improving to 19-7 in the series.

Gators’ Rough Start to the Season

Florida dropped from No. 2 in the D1Baseball Top 25 after going 0-1 on opening weekend. The Gators hosted the St. John’s Red Storm to open the season Friday, but were upset 9-5. The game was supposed to be the first of a three-day series, but was cut short due to rain.

Friday’s loss at the Condron Family Ballpark broke Florida’s streak of 13-consecutive regular season non-conference wins. In the 2023 season, the Gators went 22-3 across 25 regular-season non-conference games.

Against St. John’s, Florida had some trouble on the mound, as sophomore Cade Fisher allowed six runs on five hits and two walks in two-plus innings. During a three-run second inning, Fisher also committed an error on a sacrifice bunt attempt.

Florida brought four other pitchers to the mound. Redshirt junior Ryan Slater kept Florida in the game by giving up just one run over 3.1 innings. However, righty Fisher James followed, allowing two runs, one a solo home run by St. John’s Jackson Tucker. Blake Purnell gave up another run in the bottom of the 8th on a RBI double.

While the Gators slowly chipped away at the plate, the pitching inconsistencies prohibited a comeback.

Gators Returners and Newbies

The Gators welcomed back 14 returners, with six of them as positional starters. In the lineup is two-way standout and preseason National Player of the Year candidate Jac Caglianone, accompanied by second baseman Cade Kurland, catcher Luke Heyman, left fielder Tyler Shelnut and right fielders Michael Robinson and Ty Evans.

Florida’s returning players open the season with a College World Series loss fresh in their minds. Florida fell just one win shy of claiming another national championship.

Florida also welcomes fresh faces to the roster. The No. 34 national recruit, Liam Peterson, joins the squad as a right-handed pitcher hailing from Palm Harbor, Florida. Peterson was set to start Saturday’s game two against St. Johns before the game’s cancellation was announced. Freshman Alex Philpott also made his Gator and collegiate debut as he showed promise in the bullpen with 1.2 scoreless innings and two strikeouts against the Red Storm on Friday.

Up Next

The Gators return to Condron Family Ballpark on Wednesday to host the Ospreys for game two of the series at 6:30 p.m.

About Andrea Castiblanco

Andrea is a junior at the University of Florida studying Journalism- Sports and Media with a minor in economics.

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