The Gators against St John’s at the Condron Family Ballpark on Feb. 16. [Lee Ann Anderson/WRUF]

Gators Manhandle UNF Ospreys En Route To First Win Of 2024

After a disappointing start to their season last weekend, the Florida Gators baseball team needed to make a statement. On Tuesday evening in Jacksonville, they did exactly that (and then some) against the University of North Florida Ospreys.

The Gators (1-1) came away with a 10-0 victory against the Ospreys (1-2) for their first win of the 2024 campaign. From the mound to the batter’s box to everything else in between, Florida dominated. UF recorded 14 hits in comparison to UNF’s two. The Ospreys also had two errors, while the Gators had a near-flawless defensive performance.

Highly touted freshman pitcher Liam Peterson made his first career start for the Gators. He did not disappoint. In his three innings on the mound, Peterson racked up seven strikeouts while only allowing one hit, one walk and no runs. Relievers Fisher Jameson, Jake Clemente and Blake Purnell combined to pitch the final four innings to complete the shutout.

The Gators also found their groove at the plate for plenty of fireworks. UF’s two-way phenom Jac Caglianone knocked out his first home run of the season and drove in four runs. Sophomore second baseman Cade Kurland had a game to remember as well, scoring three runs and putting together a 4-for-5 performance. Sophomore catcher Luke Heyman and senior outfielder Tyler Shelnut chipped in with two hits each and a combined for three RBIs as well.

Caglianone Starts The Night With A Bang

Florida only needed two plate appearances to get on the board. Kurland led off the evening with an infield single, setting up Caglianone with a runner already on base. Caglianone built the count up to 1-2 before crushing a ball over the right field fence for a two-run moon shot. UNF ended up pulling the plug on starting pitcher Tony Roca before he could even make it out of the inning.

After a scoreless bottom half of the first for the Ospreys, the Gators just kept piling on. Kurland hit another lead-off double down the left field line to land in scoring position. After the Ospreys intentionally walked Caglianone, Heyman made them pay with a single to bring the run home. Both Caglianone and Heyman ended up stranded, but Florida had already jumped out to a 3-0 lead by the end of the second.

While the Gators continued chipping, Peterson kept the Ospreys in check. In the first inning, he sat down all three batters he faced on strikes. Peterson proceeded to rack up four more strikeouts in the following two innings, all while keeping North Florida off the scoreboard.

UF coach Kevin O’Sullivan ended up pulling Peterson from the game prior to the start of the fourth inning. Nevertheless, his performance already has fans and analysts alike buzzing about what his future holds.

Florida Hits Its Stride

As the game went on, Florida’s lead steadily continued to grow. After his third hit of the day, Kurland scored on a wild pitch in the fourth inning.

Florida tacked on three more runs in an action-packed fifth inning. Senior third baseman Dale Thomas blasted a leadoff double to kick things off. Junior right fielder Ty Evans followed with a single to give Gators runners at first and third base.

After a brief pause in the action as UNF made a call to the bullpen, redshirt sophomore center fielder Michael Robertson knocked in a single to score Thomas. Two at-bats later, Caglianone belted a double down the right field line to drive in another pair of runs. By the end of the fifth, Florida’s lead had already climbed to 7-0, and the team was still not done.

Gators Steamroll Their Way To The Finish Line

In the top of the sixth inning, Colby Shelton reached first base on an error from UNF third baseman Connor Moore. After reaching second base after a walk, Shelton scored on another throwing error from Moore.

By the time the seventh inning came around, the Gators were ready to go for the kill shot. Kurland drilled a single for his fourth hit before reaching second on a wild pitch. Heyman followed with another single to bring Kurland home. Shelton chipped in with a hit of his own to give Florida runners at the corners once again.

The Gators only needed one more run to trigger the run-rule. Shelnut, taking full advantage of the opportunity to seal the deal, blasted a double to score Heyman. Both remaining runners ended up stranded, but the damage had already been done.

Up Next

Florida will return to Condron Ballpark today for a rematch with the Ospreys. First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.

About Jack Meyer

Jack Meyer is a third-year student at the University of Florida. He is majoring in Journalism and specializing in Sports and Media.

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