UF's Brody Donay makes contact with the ball Tuesday against Florida A&M University at the Condron Family Ballpark. [Caleb Ross/WRUF]

Gators Baseball Outhits Rattlers For 10-7 Win

It was not the prettiest of wins, but the No. 6 Florida Gators won a midweek game at Condron Family Ballpark.

Gators defeated the Florida A&M Rattlers 10-7. Solid relieving pitching, hot bats and Jac Caglianone being a one-of-a-kind player were the key factors in Tuesday’s win.

Florida (17-11) has struggled in midweek games, going just 3-5 and losing the past four games in non-weekend games. But the Gators bounced back and coach Kevin O’Sullivan is glad they broke that losing streak.

“The most important part [of the game] was that we got a midweek win,” O’Sullivan said. “It’s been a while since we had one of those.”

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Midweek Starting Pitching

Ryan Slater took the mound for the Gators Tuesday and did not start the way he wanted. Coming into Tuesday, the starting pitching ERA during midweeks sat at 6.88. Slater added to that rather quickly. The junior allowed four hits in the first inning, including a three-run blast to the opponent’s bullpen.

An error and two Ratter hits scored two for Florida A&M (12-17) in the second. Slater was pulled after two innings for Fisher Jameson. The veteran reliever allowed six hits on five runs, three of which were earned.

Starting pitchers in midweek games have allowed 55 runs in 70 innings. Good for an ERA of 7.07, dead last in the SEC. The issue for the Gators in the previous midweek games was getting into large deficits early.

In the past five midweek games, the Gators allowed 18 runs in the first two innings, allowing at least two runs early in every one of those games. But Tuesday’s game was different despite the same trends. The bats showed up, as well as the bullpen saving the day.

Bombs Away

The Gators hit five home runs in Tuesday’s win, with nine of their 10 runs coming from those long balls. Cade Kurland came up to bat in the first inning with runners at first and second. Kurland rocketed a ball over the right-field fence to tie the game at three.

Caglianone and Tyler Shelnut both reached base off a walk and hit by pitch. Shelnut had an interesting game at the plate. The senior reached safely on every appearance, but did not hit a ball in play. Shelnut walked once and was plunked three times. Florida was hit six times as a team, the most in a game this season.

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Brody Donay hit his first home run of the day in the third inning on a three-run home run. This was Donay’s first home run since Florida’s loss against UCF.

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Donay would then add an insurance run in the eighth inning that made it a three-run game. This was Donay’s first multi-home run performance as a Gator and second in his collegiate career. Donay went yard twice against Florida State in his time at Virginia Tech.

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In the fourth, Colby Shelton led the inning with an opposite-field home run that the sophomore needed to get out of his slump. The shortstop was hitting 0-for-13 since his multi-home run game against LSU.

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“[Shelton] is a grinder,” O’Sullivan said. “His body language does not change, he does the same thing every day… It was good to see him get one, it was a good swing. Hopefully, this gets him going.”

Give Caglianone Golden Spikes

Caglianone’s talent was on full display Tuesday night. Caglianone finished his night going 2-for-3 and was excellent at first base.

Caglianone would get hit by the pitcher on the first pitch of his at-bat in the first inning. After scoring a run, Caglianone hit a ball 118 MPH off the right-field wall for a single. The junior missed a solo shot by inches. Caglianone then scored his second run and only non-long ball run of the game for the Gators off a wild pitch.

On the field, Caglianone ended the eighth by snagging a foul ball hovering above the Gator dugout. Rattlers had runners at second and third with two outs in a two-run game.

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The cherry on top of Caglianone’s night was a seventh-inning 491-foot bomb that entered the parking lot, the farthest home run as a Gator, breaking his 480-foot dinger as a freshman.

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Bullpen Relief

The Gators only used four arms Tuesday. Slater, Jameson (2-0), Blake Purnell and Cade Fisher (save). This is the only midweek game in which a freshman did not pitch. In the six innings, the veteran group allowed just two runs.

The main takeaway from Tuesday is from Fisher’s outing. He went 2.2 innings of no-run ball and allowed just two hits and struck out five. Fisher threw just 44 pitches against the Rattlers.

Fisher has felt less pressure coming out of the bullpen in the two appearances since coming a reliever last Friday.

“I don’t have to worry about getting six innings, I just need to worry about getting a couple of outs,” Fisher said. “Out of the bullpen, I am trying to throw everything as hard as I can.”

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Jameson allowed the only two bullpen runs in the game for the Gators. One on a RBI groundout in the third and the other on a missile to the opponent’s bullpen in the sixth. This is the first time in Jameson’s last eight appearances where he went at least three innings.

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Purnell allowed just two hits on six batters faced. The junior reliever went 1.1 innings on 21 pitches.

Up Next

Gators will travel to Columbia, Missouri to face off against the Tigers this weekend.

“Until we figure the pitching for us, stats from the other team and the record mean nothing to me,” O’Sullivan said. “We’ve got to pitch better, we gotta play better… Missouri is certainly capable of playing well and giving us fits.”

First pitch for Friday’s game is at 7 p.m. and will be broadcast on SEC Network+ and ESPN 98.1-FM/850-AM WRUF.

About Nick VanZandt

Nick VanZandt is a senior journalism student at the University of Florida and this is his third semester working for WRUF.

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