Florida baseball teammates celebrate in the dugout Wednesday against the University of North Florida at the Condron Family Ballpark. [Caleb Ross/WRUF]

Gator Baseball Completes Sweep Against UNF Ospreys

What could possibly be better than a mid-week victory against an in-state foe? Two mid-week victories against an in-state foe.

The Florida Gators baseball team came away with a 13-4 win over the North Florida Ospreys on Wednesday evening to complete the two-game series sweep after winning 10-0 Tuesday in Jacksonville.

Florida (2-1) took a 7-0 lead early, but the Ospreys responded with four runs of their own in the sixth and seventh innings. Despite the late-game scare, the Gators managed to finish the Ospreys (1-3) off with a dominant eighth inning to secure their first victory at Condron Ballpark in the 2024 campaign.

UF redshirt sophomore center fielder Michael Robertson came through with one of the best performances of his career. He finished the day with a career-high four hits and three RBIs, one stolen base and one run scored.

Senior left fielder Tyler Shelnut and right fielder Ty Evans chipped in with a combined five RBIs. Rounding out Florida’s output, sophomore second baseman Cade Kurland and junior first baseman Jac Caglianone each picked up an RBI.

Freshman pitcher Alex Philpott had a respectable performance in his first start for the Gators. Through three innings, Philpott allowed two hits, two walks and no runs while sitting down two batters on strikes.

Florida’s bullpen did not see as much success. After a strong outing from freshman Robert Satin, relievers Hunter Jones and Blake Purnell allowed a combined four earned runs over two innings. Nevertheless, the Gators eventually got the situation back under control to clinch the win.

Gators Get To Cooking

The Ospreys made some trouble for the Gators in the top of the first inning. After Philpott struck out UNF’s leadoff man, he walked junior catcher Jabin Bates and built the count up to 3-2 in his following plate appearance against senior right fielder Cherokee Nichols.

Before the payoff pitch came in, however, Bates took off running for second. Not fooled, UF senior catcher Tanner Garrison and sophomore second baseman Cade Kurland connected on the basepaths to tag him out. Nichols flew out in the same at-bat, retiring the side before any real damage could be done. Gators coach Kevin O’Sullivan helped Philpott regain his composure after he found himself in a tight spot.

“A lot of it is, he’s coming out to tell you what you need to do,” Philpott said. “In that moment, you really need to execute with runners on base and get the job done.”

UF’s Alex Philpott pitches against the University of North Florida at the Condron Family Ballpark on Wednesday.
[Caleb Ross/WRUF]
Florida immediately got to work at the plate in the bottom of the inning. After two quick outs, the Ospreys walked sophomore catcher Luke Heyman to give the Gators a glimmer of hope. Sophomore shortstop Colby Shelton landed on base in the subsequent at-bat via a UNF throwing error.

Eventually, Shelnut loaded the bases for Florida on another walk. Evans then drilled a ball into the left field gap to score Heyman and Shelton to give the Gators a 2-0 lead.

Robertson belted a leadoff single into left field before stealing second base in the second inning. In the following at-bat, Kurland was hit by a pitch to land on base.

As Caglianone stepped into the batter’s box, the home crowd grew more and more excited. The Florida two-way phenom proceeded to do what he does best: knock the living daylights out of a baseball. Caglianone blasted a single to bring Robertson home.

Four Runs In The Fourth Inning

In the top of the fourth, the Gators found themselves in yet another jam. After Satin replaced Philpott on the mound, the Ospreys knocked in back-to-back singles to land yet another runner in scoring position.

With his back now against the wall, Satin remained as composed as ever. He sat down the next batter he faced on strikes before forcing a weak ground out to first to retire UNF once again.

Garrison started the bottom of the fourth with a bang. Literally. He sailed a ball past the UNF third baseman and down the left field line for a leadoff double. Two at-bats later, Kurland brought him home with a knock through the left field gap.

Florida proceeded to load the bases yet again after picking up another pair of walks. Shelnut stepped back into the box and got right back to work. He drilled a hit into the left side to tack another two runs onto the scoreboard.

Evans came back up to the plate and immediately reloaded the bases for UF after being hit by a pitch. Shelton ended up scoring in the next at-bat on a UNF balk. By the end of the fourth inning, Florida’s lead had already grown to 7-0.

UNF Shows Signs Of Life At The Plate

After a quiet fifth inning from both sides, the Ospreys finally came to life at the plate in the sixth inning. After Nichols reached first on a hit-by-pitch, senior designated hitter Jakob Runnels drilled a ball down the left field line. North Florida now had two runners in scoring position.

Nichols ended up scoring on a sacrifice ground out, while Runnels made it home on an RBI double from sophomore left fielder Tyler Gerteisen. On the next at-bat, Gerteisen crossed home plate on a knock into right courtesy of junior center fielder Drew Leinenbach. Junior reliever Blake Purnell eventually got the situation back under control for Florida, but not before UNF cut their deficit down to 7-3.

One inning later, the Ospreys tacked on another run. This time, the scoring play came on an RBI-single from junior first baseman Cade Bush. North Florida was now within striking distance, only trailing 7-4. The Gators had to find a way to regain the upper hand, and fast. Enter Michael Robertson in the bottom of the seventh inning.

Michael Robertson Saves The Day

Robertson stepped up to the plate with a man on first and two outs on the board. With the team in dire need of a momentum boost, he swung his bat and cracked a line drive deep into left field. As the ball rolled past the UNF outfielder, UF third baseman Dale Thomas rounded the bases and charged towards home plate. Robertson eventually landed at second base, while Thomas went on to score with ease. Just like that, the Gators were back in control with an 8-4 lead.

The rest of the team picked up right where Robertson left off in the bottom of the eighth inning. After Caglianone walked and Shleton reached first on a bunt, Shelnut picked up his third RBI of the night on a knock into right field. Senior outfielder Jalen Guy and Thomas followed up with a pair of walks of their own to keep piling on. Guy’s walk loaded the bases, while Thomas’ drove in another run.

After a sacrifice fly from Garrison brought Shelnut home, Robertson made his way back into the box. Apparently not yet satisfied, Robertson knocked another double into deep left field to score two more runs for the Gators. Even though he had just set a new career-high, Robertson remained locked in and focused on the task at hand: finishing the Ospreys off.

“At that point, I was just on autopilot,” Robertson said. “I was just trying to have good at-bats and put good swings on good pitches. That’s all I’m worried about.”

Sealing The Deal For Another Win

With the score now back up to 13-4, it was safe to say that Florida had gotten their swagger back. Junior reliever Brandon Neely came in for the final frame and took care of business with ease. Three batters went up for UNF, and three batters came right back down. Just like that, the ballgame was officially over, and the Gators had sealed the series sweep.

The Gators will return to Condron Ballpark on Friday for a weekend showdown with the Columbia Lions. O’Sullivan acknowledged the strengths of this Columbia team, but reaffirmed his confidence in his own squad as well.

“I think this week is going to be a very challenging weekend,” O’Sullivan said. “We’re going to have our hands full, and it’s an older club with a lot of guys back. We’ll dive into it a little but more tomorrow, but it’s going to be challenging for sure.”

First pitch for game one of the series is set 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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