Gators Tyler Shelnut
Gators right fielder Tyler Shelnut (6) recorded three hits in Florida's loss to Texas A&M on Saturday night. [Photo by Bella Rosa/FloridaGators.com]

Gators Continue To Struggle On The Mound In Loss To Aggies

After an explosive series opener Friday between the No. 8 Florida Gators and No. 4 Texas A&M Aggies, the squads went right back to trading blows Saturday night. But this time, the tides of momentum were not in Florida’s favor.

The Gators could not contain the Aggies’ high-powered offense at Condron Family Ballpark in losing 10-6. The rubber game is set for 1 p.m. (SEC Network+, ESPN 98.1-FM/850-AM WRUF) today.

First baseman Jac Caglianone, right fielder Ty Evans and left fielder Tyler Shelnut each notched two hits for the Gators (11-7, 1-1 SEC). Designated hitter Luke Heyman also knocked a three-run homer in the first inning, while third baseman Dale Thomas chipped in with a two-RBI double.

UF freshman pitcher Liam Peterson (1-2) struggled in his first SEC start. Peterson lasted only two innings after allowing five hits and six runs, including three home runs.

Florida burned through its bullpen as the evening went on, as seven pitchers took to the mound.

The Aggies (18-1, 1-1) made plenty of noise at the plate, with right fielder Braden Montgomery, third baseman Gavin Grahovac and center fielder Jace LaViolette all hitting home runs.

“[Grahovac, LaViolette and Montgomery] are as good of a top three as you’re going to see,” UF coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “It’s a difficult lineup to navigate through.”

Firing Away From The Get-Go

Montgomery started off the game with a literal bang. After the Aggies landed two runners on base via a leadoff double from Grahovac and a hit-by-pitch on LaViolette, Montgomery cleared the bases with a three-run shot past the right field foul pole.

The Gators stormed back in the bottom of the first. After Cade Kurland was hit-by-pitch, Caglianone smacked a line drive single to put runners on the corners for Heyman, who drilled a deep ball into left and over the Texas A&M bullpen to even the game.

 

Florida’s Bullpen Gets Rocked In The Third

After a quiet second inning from both sides, the Aggies came roaring back in the third. Grahovac led off with a deep ball that inched past the left foul pole to stay fair. LaViolette then blasted the first pitch he saw into the stands for another home run.

Montgomery followed with a single, prompting O’Sullivan to pull the plug on Peterson. Freshman right-hander Alex Philpott took the bump, but he did not find much success either. Philpott walked the only two batters he faced on just nine pitches before O’Sullivan opted to remove him.

Junior right-hander Fisher Jameson finished off the turbulent third inning. Dealing with the bases loaded and no outs, Jameson surrendered a walk and a pair of fielder’s choice ground outs that allowed the Aggies to build their lead to 8-3.

The Gators immediately got to work in chipping away at their newfound deficit in the bottom of the frame. Evans lined a one-out single. Shelnut followed with a double off the left field wall to land to runners in scoring position.

With Aggies starting pitcher Tanner Jones now facing another jam, the team opted to replace him with senior Evan Aschenbeck (3-0).  Thomas welcomed him to the game with a double down the left field line to cut Florida’s deficit to 8-5.

Facing An Offensive Stalemate

Freshman left-hander Robert Satin stopped the bleeding for the Gators after entering in the fourth. Satin pitched back-to-back shutout innings. Satin endured his share of close calls, including a bases-loaded jam in the fifth inning, but he prevailed and prevented any runs.

But as soon as the Gators put the pieces together on the mound, they lost their offensive mojo. Aside from a two-out double from Shelton in the fourth inning, Florida could not muster anything to chip away at its three-run deficit.

Freshman right-hander Grayson Smith took over for Satin after the fifth inning. Following a hitless sixth frame by Smith, Appel knocked a deep fly ball into right field in the top of the seventh. The knock nearly cleared the fence, but remained in play as it bounced off the right field wall.

Appel settled for a triple, but Smith quickly regained his bearings. After giving up a walk, Smith sat down Ali Camarillo on strikes for the third out.

Swinging And Missing In The Seventh

Smith’s close call in the seventh inning provided a much-needed energy boost for the Gators entering the bottom of the frame. After Shelton reached first base on a one-out walk, Evans cracked a double into deep left field. Shelnut followed with a walk to load the bases.

The Aggies escaped trouble when Thomas and Tanner Garrison struck out.

 

The Gators Run Out Of Gas

Even after the seventh inning gut-punch, the Gators refused to go down without a fight. Kurland and Caglianone knocked a pair of one-out singles to lead off the eighth inning. But Heyman grounded into a double play to quickly retire the side.

The Aggies delivered the kiss of death in the top of the ninth inning. With the bases loaded, Camarillo ripped a two-RBI single through the right side to extend Texas A&M’s lead to 10-5.

Florida kept swinging away in the bottom of the ninth. Shelton led off the frame with a walk before Shelnut belted a double. Shelton scored on a sacrifice fly from pinch hitter Landon Russell, but that would be it, as the Aggies evened the series.

“I feel good about going into tomorrow,” O’Sullivan said. “We’re going to put this one behind us and get ready to play [again].”

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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