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Saturday, June 12, 2021

Gators can’t sweep on senior day

No. 9 Florida drops final regular-season home match to Georgia

Kendrick Calilao against Jacksonville University on March 14. Calilao led the Gators with six hits in the weekend series against Georgia
Kendrick Calilao against Jacksonville University on March 14. Calilao led the Gators with six hits in the weekend series against Georgia

The seniors of Florida Gators baseball stood side-by-side with smiles from ear-to-ear as they were honored before Sunday’s first pitch.

Celebrations concluded, and the athletes made their way to the dugout, their newly framed jerseys ready for the final home game of the regular season. 

The commemorations and positive vibes were short-lived for Florida after the Georgia Bulldogs kicked off a home run fiesta in the first frame and shut down the Florida batters to take game three 6-1.

The Georgia bats sparked early in the first inning when third baseman Garrett Blaylock read right-handed Franco Aleman’s pitch like a book to deliver a three-run bomb to center field.

Florida first baseman Kendrick Calilao took advantage of two Georgia miscues one frame later to round the bases for the lone Gators run. The sophomore made it to second base on an erroneous throw from Blaylock, and then scooted to third off a wild pitch. 

Despite the rocky start, Franco Aleman stayed on the mound until head coach Kevin O’Sullivan pulled the junior in the sixth. Aleman threw four strikeouts against the Bulldogs batting order and allowed seven hits before making a final stroll to the dugout.

One pitch left the arm of senior Trey Van Der Weide and UGA left fielder Randon Jernigan laid down a routine bunt for a fielder’s choice. But what was supposed to be a simple toss to third base turned into a disaster for the Gators’ infield. 

Van Der Weide scanned his options with a quick spin but overthrew his target to allow Georgia baserunner Josh Stinson a free path to home plate. 

Calilao kept up his offensive charge to end the weekend with five runs scored and six hits, both the best marks for Florida.

Head coach Kevin O’Sullivan has taken note of Calilao’s performances over the last seven days, as well as Cory Acton at second base. 

“Obviously he’s been a huge spark for us and our lineup, so is Cory Acton,” O’Sullivan said “Obviously I’m really pleased with what he’s doing offensively for us and I think he and Cory have given us a huge lift.”

Acton, the second baseman who made a flying snag in the Saturday matchup, also played his part throughout the week. Although he went one-for-four at the plate Sunday, the sophomore tallied three hits and drew two walks to bring his on-base percentage to a strong .481.

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The No. 9 Gators get four days off before their next three-game series against the Arkansas Razorbacks begins on Thursday, May 20. The action from Fayetteville will be broadcast live on the SEC Network.

Contact Jesse Richardson at jrichardson@alligator.org and follow him on Twitter @JesseRich352

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