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Friday, May 24, 2024

Gators blank Bethune-Cookman, win fifth straight

Tyler Nesbitt, Nick Ficarrotta and Blake Purnell combined for a scoreless performance on the mound

<p>Sophomore Wyatt Langford delivered his 26th home run of the season Monday, tying Matt LaPorta for most homers in a single season from a UF batter. </p>

Sophomore Wyatt Langford delivered his 26th home run of the season Monday, tying Matt LaPorta for most homers in a single season from a UF batter.

Florida baseball returned to Gainesville after arguably its best weekend of the year featuring a series sweep over Mississippi State.

While the Gators might have looked ahead to the upcoming weekend series in Columbia, Missouri, against the Mizzou Tigers, their focus needed to remain on the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats.

Starting pitcher redshirt freshman Tyler Nesbitt did just that, working four scoreless innings before passing the torch to his relief to finish the night. The Gators (30-18, 11-13) blanked the ‘Cats (21-27, 15-9), 7-0.

Opening the game with a four-pitch walk, Nesbitt faced some trouble in the first inning. The Labelle, Florida, native loaded the bases after another walk and a single. Nesbitt escaped the jam, though, forcing a side-closing flyout.

Still recovering from Tommy John surgery, Nesbitt worked four full frames Tuesday for the first time this season, throwing 67 pitches en route to four strikeouts, four hits and two walks. 

The increased workload is a positive sign for Nesbitt, as UF needs him as the postseason looms.

Leadoff batter sophomore Wyatt Langford saw a four-pitch walk to open the bottom of the first. 

Unlike the Wildcats leadoff runner, Langford got home.

Sophomore second baseman Sterlin Thompson drilled a single into right field, but an error on the throw gave Langford enough time to reach the plate and put the Gators on the board. Thompson, thanks to an RBI single from freshman designated hitter Jac Caglianone, also plated to give Florida a two-run cushion after one inning.

Four free bases were awarded to Florida to start the second, the final of which brought sophomore catcher Mac Guscette home from third base. Despite the loaded bases, one run would be all the orange and blue could muster. Luckily for them, one run was all Florida needed to secure a victory.

In the next four innings, the Gators and Wildcats combined for five total hits and two runners in scoring position. Redshirt freshman southpaw Nick Ficarrotta took over for Nesbitt after and continued the scoreless affair, working four scoreless frames, including six strikeouts.

Finally, in the bottom of the seventh inning, Langford woke the crowd up at Condron Ballpark with a leadoff homer to make the score 4-0.

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“I think we’re getting to the position now where offensively we’re starting to get our stride,” head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said.

The last scoring output of the night came in the eighth, starting with singles from Caglianone and fellow freshman Ty Evans. Sophomore shortstop Josh Rivera roped an RBI single to deliver the fifth run of the day. 

Sophomore third baseman Colby Halter delivered a sacrifice fly out to deep left, giving Evans enough time to score. Reaching the top of the lineup once again, Thompson rocketed an RBI double down the right-field line. 

Those runs brought the score to 7-0. All that was left to do was close the top of the ninth, and O’Sullivan called upon redshirt freshman Blake Purnell to finish the job. 

Six pitches later, the game was over.

After a quick trip home, Florida hits the road again this weekend for a Southeastern Conference series against the Mizzou Tigers. First pitch on Friday is slated for 7 p.m. on SEC Network+.

Contact Carson Cashion at Follow him on Twitter @CarsonCashion

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Carson Cashion

Carson Cashion is a third-year sports journalism major at UF, and the sports editor at The Alligator for the 2022 summer semester. A native of Altamonte Springs, Carson spends his free time walking his dog, Baxter, and listening to good music. He is an avid Tennessee sports fan, and eagerly awaits watching one of his teams win a championship for the first time.

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