Gators infielder Tyler Shelnut, who tied his career high with five RBI on Saturday vs. Vandy. [Cyndi Chambers/ Gainesville Sun]

Gators Baseball Escapes Nashville With Win; Shelnut Leads With 5 RBIs

The Florida Gators baseball team defeated the No. 13 Vanderbilt Commodores 6-2 on Saturday in Nashville, Tenn.

A solid outing on the mound from Jac Caglianone and a five-RBI output by Tyler Shelnut allowed Florida to salvage a game in the three-game SEC series.

The Gators (20-19, 8-10 SEC) forced Vanderbilt (29-11, 10-8) to strand 10 runners and didn’t allow a score after the third inning. Fisher Jameson picked up his first collegiate save and punched out six batters through 3.1 innings.

Cags Day On Mound

Caglianone (5-0) entered riding a nine-game home run streak. The junior tied the NCAA record for most consecutive games with a home run Friday and needed one more Saturday to have sole possession of the record. But, Caglianone had another responsibility – taking the mound for the Gators and pitching well enough to avoid the sweep.

Caglianone went five innings and allowed two runs. A respectable outing from Caglianone, but Saturday’s performance was determined by the runners left on by the lefty. Caglianone allowed six hits and three walks but left six Commodores on base. Caglianone’s usual strikeout hunting was limited. Vandy struck out just five times, but Caaglianone allowed light contact that were quick outs.

The Golden Spikes hopeful did not hit a home run, but did reach base on a single in the seventh inning to extend his hitting streak to 18 straight games.

Shelly the Savior

Vanderbilt starting pitcher JD Thompson was mowing down Florida’s lineup through three innings. Despite the leadoff batter getting on base in the first four innings, the Gators had little success in expanding those into runs.

Florida got on the board in the fourth on a double by Cade Kurland that scored Colby Shelton who had doubled. But outside of that the Vandy pitcher was cruising. Thompson had six strikeouts through 3.2 innings and was one strike away from ending the fourth inning with a 2-1 lead.

But Florida coach Kevin O’Sullivan noticed rosin and a white substance on Thompson’s right arm. O’Sullivan asked the umpires to check  Thompson’s arm and after a 10-minute delay, Thompson was ejected for illegal use of foreign substances. Then Vandy reliever Ethan McElvain left the game with the trainer after suffering an apparent injury while warming up.

The Gators did not add any runs in the fourth, but this was the turning point in the game.

In the fifth, the Commodores allowed two Gators on base on a hit-by-pitch and a walk. With runners on the corners and two outs, the veteran Shelnut came up to the plate. Shelnut was hitless with two strikeouts entering the at-bat.

But on a 0-2 count, the freshman Vandy reliever left the pitch too far on the plate and Shelnut belted his 12th homer to left-center field to give Florida its first lead of the series. The Gators have come from behind in all eight of their SEC victories.

Shelnut added insurance runs in the ninth with two runners aboard. Vanderbilt intentionally walked Caglianone in his last at-bat of the game and caused the junior to not break the record for most consecutive games with a home run. However, with runners at second and third, Shelnut delivered a two-RBI double to extend Florida’s lead to 6-2.

Up Next

Florida will take on the Stetson Hatters at Condron Family Ballpark on Tuesday and hope to split the home-and-hone series. The Gators were upset in their visit to DeLand on Feb. 27, losing 7-4.

Tuesday’s starter has not been announced, but the first pitch at 6:30 p.m. (SEC Network+, 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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