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Monday, May 27, 2024

Fabian leads Gators past USF with career game

The junior recorded career highs in home runs and RBIs in a game on the way to a dominant victory.

<p>Junior center fielder Jud Fabian knocked his 23rd and 24th home runs of the year Sunday against Oklahoma.</p>

Junior center fielder Jud Fabian knocked his 23rd and 24th home runs of the year Sunday against Oklahoma.

Tuesday’s crowd at Condron Ballpark was nothing to gawk at. This isn’t unusual for a midweek game against a small-conference team, but the small gathering of Gators fans was rewarded with a historic performance from junior center fielderJud Fabian.

Florida (26-18, 8-13 SEC) defeated South Florida (23-21, 4-11 AAC) 18-2 in a dominant offensive performance across the Gators lineup. Fabian finished with a career-high in single-game home runs and RBIs, moving up the ladder in career homers in the process. 

The Bulls struck first with a leadoff single. The runner was brought home on a groundout to give USF the early 1-0 lead. Redshirt sophomore starting pitcherNick Pogue struck out the next batter to retire the side and the Gators got to work.

It started with a leadoff hit from outfielder Wyatt Langford through the right infield which brought the sophomore to first. Fabian stepped to the plate and hit the ball over the left field wall for a two-run homer. 

Pogue followed a slightly worrisome first inning on the mound with a hitless frame to set Florida up for a burst of offense in the bottom of the second.

Sophomore catcher Mac Guscette hit a solo-shot home run for his third of the season. After singles from junior third baseman Kris Armstrong, Langford and sophomore right fielder Sterlin Thompson, Fabian found himself  up to bat again with loaded bases. He sent the 1-2 pitch 102.4 mph off the bat, well past the bullpen wall for a grand slam. It marked the 50th home run of his career, tied for fourth in program history. 

Junior first baseman BT Riopelle hit a homer of his own to put the cherry on top of a six-run inning and extend UF’s lead to 8-1 heading into the third.

USF responded with another score thanks to an error in the top of the third, but the Gators continued to rack up runs on offense. Langford notched his second hit of the night and brought Guscette home on an RBI double. Thompson hit a sacrifice fly to deep left field for an RBI of his own. The Bulls pulled their second pitcher of the game after the inning. 

Florida kept pouring it on in the fourth. Sophomore shortstop Josh Rivera made it home on a fielder's choice before Langford loaded the bases on a walk. Thompson placed the ball perfectly in the gap for a three-RBI single. Fabian then homered again for his first-ever three homer, totaling a career-high eight RBIs. At the end of the fourth inning, UF led 16-2. 

“The game meant a little more to the guys that were here last year,” Fabian said. Because of what they did to us, celebrating on our field, I think this game meant a little more to us.” 

The Bulls continued to move down their bullpen, searching for an answer to the UF onslaught. Pogue was pulled before the fifth inning after 4.0 innings pitched and a 6.35 ERA. The sophomore RHP was awarded the win on the rubber. Redshirt freshman pitcher Tyler Nesbitt took the mound and added to the string of hitless innings. 

Florida merely needed to go through the motions to close out the game. The Gators added on two runs for a season-high 18, while USF mustered just one more run of its own.

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Up next, UF heads to Starkville for a weekend series against Mississippi State. The Bulldogs have had similar struggles to the Gators this season, going 25-20 overall and 9-12 in the SEC. They lost their most recent series against Mizzou, dropping two of three games. 

“We’ve put ourselves in a position where we got to win games.” said head coach Kevin O’Sullivan. “But we’ve got to do it one game at a time, we can’t look ahead. Bottom line is, we’ve got to play.” 

First pitch on Friday is set for 8 p.m. The game will be broadcast on the SEC Network. 

Contact Jackson Castellano at jcastellano@alligator.org. Follow him on Twitter @jaxacastellano.


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Jackson Castellano

Jackson Castellano is a third-year sports media journalism student and the Digital Managing Editor at The Alligator for Spring 2024. In the past, he's served as the Sports Editor, Assistant Sports Editor and a Sports Reporter covering Football, Men's basketball and Baseball.


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