Florida outfielder Ty Evans. [Photo by Maura Schaeffer/]

Florida Gets Crucial Midweek Win Against FAU

After a rainout March 5 and an hour-and-a-half rain delay Tuesday, Florida finally got a piece of FAU when both teams jumped on the opposing pitching out of the gate.

Led by the top and bottom ends of the Gators’ lineup from Ty Evans (2-for-4, three RBI) and hot-hitting freshman Hayden Yost (2-for-3) reaching base three times, Florida improved to 23-21 after the 10-8 win against Florida Atlantic (22-20).

The Gators came into Tuesday’s matchup 3-15 when the opposing team scored in the first inning. Florida has also given up 48 first-inning runs compared to Florida Atlantic’s mere 17.

However, after Cade Fisher gave up a two-spot on 36 pitches to start the game, the Gators responded immediately in “crunch time,” as coach Kevin O’Sullivan called it.

It started with Jac Caglianone doing what Jac Caglianone does, extending his hit streak to 23 games with a 100-mph hit to the second baseman who ducked out of the way while flailing his glove at the ball.

Colby Shelton then lined a ball down the right-field line. The Gators caught the break they needed when Luke Heyman hit a line drive to left that skated past the glove of FAU outfielder Jalen Debose going all the way to the fence to tie the game.

Cade Kurland followed with a go-ahead sacrifice fly to break the tie at 3-2 and start a lead that wouldn’t be given up the rest of the way.

Fishing for a Good Outing

Fisher still couldn’t figure it out in the following inning with one-out walk to end his day after 44 pitches in just a little over 1 1/3 innings pitched.

O’Sullivan stressed that if the Gators are going to make a run, Fisher needs to be a key piece of the puzzle.

“All it’s going to take is one good outing and I think he’ll take off again,” O’Sullivan said. “But we’re just still searching for that one outing.”

The other arms out of the pen seemed to be in groove though, starting with Ryan Slater who bounced back from a rough four-run outing against Arkansas last weekend to get out of a jam against the Owls in consecutive innings.

Slater (4-2) stranded a runner at third base in the second and two more runners in a tight situation in the third after giving up consecutive singles.

Power on Both Ends

The Gators struck again in the third inning, compliments of the backend of the order from Kurland and Brody Donay combining for three hits and four RBIs.

Kurland (1-for-4, two RBI) exploded for his ninth homer of the season, a solo rocket to left field to put Florida up 4-2.

Donay (2-for-3, two RBI) got himself a piece of the action with a hit over the third baseman for an RBI single to stretch the lead to 5-2 heading into the fourth inning.

Slater got into trouble in the fourth inning after a two-run triple by FAU, but stopped the bleeding by forcing a groundout and strikeout.

Frank Menendez, who has been on a tear by giving up just one run and three hits in his last five outings, held the line at 5-4 for the Gators by stranding two runners.

The Gators tacked on three more runs in the fifth behind an RBI double from Donay and a no doubter two-run homer to left field from Evans (12th of the year) that extended the lead to 8-4.

FAU responded the ensuing inning by capitalizing off an error by Heyman at first base. The error opened the door for two runs off Menendez with a fly ball off the wall for a double and a line drive to left as the Owls cut into the lead, 8-6. 

It was Jake Clemente’s turn to make a defensive hold for the Gators, and he did exactly that by stranding a runner on third base to escape the seventh.

But Florida’s most important run came in the eighth inning when Yost reached base for the fourth time with a leadoff double followed again with a picture-perfect bunt from Donay to set the stage for another RBI sac fly from Evans to put the Gators ahead 10-6.

“Getting out to a four-run lead in the eighth makes all the difference in the world there,” O’Sullivan said.

This proved true when FAU rallied with a pair of runs in the ninth, but Fisher Jameson sealed it by inducing a double play to secure a crucial midweek win.

“This is the reality of it, we got to get going,” O’Sullivan said. “I know everyone says it’s a marathon not a sprint, but right now it’s been a sprint, bottom line.”

Up Next

The Gators set their sights on another tough SEC matchup against the No. 3 Tennessee Volunteers (37-7, 15-6 SEC) at Condron Family Ballpark starting Thursday at 7 p.m. (ESPN, ESPN 98.1-FM/850-AM WRUF).



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