Jac Caglianone exhaled as Gators head coach Kevin O’Sullivan approached from the Florida dugout. After 6.2 innings of shutout baseball, he knew his day was finished.
The sophomore southpaw exited to a standing ovation from the Condron Ballpark crowd, and for good reason.
In his highly anticipated pitching debut, Caglianone held the Charleston Southern bats at bay, allowing just two hits and striking out nine in No. 7 Florida’s (3-0) 8-0 win over the Buccaneers (0-3) Sunday afternoon.
Sunday’s win gave Florida the opening series sweep coming on the heels of 13-3 and 16-2 mercy rule victories Friday and Saturday. Sophomore right fielder Ty Evans recorded four runs batted in on two doubles to pace UF’s offense. Evans finished with 10 RBI in the series.
“To have a guy that has that good of an arm, locate his fastball both sides, breaking ball for strikes … his pace was outstanding,” O’Sullivan said. “He pitched like a number one tonight.”
It was Caglianone’s first start since his senior year of high school in June 2021. He spent the last year and a half recovering from Tommy John surgery.
A two-way player who handled first base and designated hitter in the first two games, Caglianone used his time in the field to study the Buccaneers’ hitters, he said.
“Obviously, working up to it, you have the pregame jitters and all that type of stuff,” Caglianone said. “Coaches and all my teammates have my back, so I had a lot of confidence going into it.”
Caglianone blew away the first batter of the game, freshman center fielder Ashton Wilson, with a 97 MPH fastball. He got senior right fielder Tyrell Brewer to ground out to shortstop and junior first baseman Kieran Davis to strike out to pick up his first 1-2-3 inning.
Florida caught a break in the bottom half of the first inning.
With two outs, senior catcher BT Riopelle hammered a line drive directly to Brewer in right field, who dropped the ball. Riopelle advanced to second base after Brewer took too much time to throw the ball back in.
The error snowballed over the next two plate appearances. Junior shortstop Josh Rivera walked on four straight pitches, and Evans followed up with a two-run double down the left-field line.
The Gators had their third run come across on a triple to left-center field from freshman catcher Luke Heyman. The cross breeze from left to right field made it a difficult play for Buccaneers left fielder Sergio DeCello, who just missed making a play on the ball.
Caglianone found his groove after allowing his only two hits in the third inning. The lefty retired the next 12 batters he faced. He mowed down the Buccaneers with his high 90s fastball and change up-cutter-curveball mix.
O’Sullivan pulled Caglianone from the game after he walked Buccaneers sophomore second baseman Ernesto Polanco with two outs in the seventh. Sophomore right hander Blake Purnell came in to record the final out of the frame.
Sophomore starting pitcher Evan Truitt quieted the Florida bats after the first two frames. The right hander dealt with runners on base multiple times but managed to escape trouble in the third and fifth innings.
The Gators found their next scoring opportunity in the seventh when righty Dylan Matsuoka took over for Truitt. The junior allowed back-to-back hits to Heyman and redshirt freshman center fielder Michael Robertson before walking junior left fielder Wyatt Langford.
Buccaneers head coach Marc MacMillan replaced Matsuoka with senior left-hander Ryan Daugherty in an attempt to control the situation.
Daugherty subsequently walked Riopelle, forcing in sophomore infielder Deric Fabian from third, and gave up a sacrifice fly to right field from Rivera to score Robertson, pushing the Gators’ lead to 5-0.
With runners on the corners and two away, Evans came through with his second two-RBI two-bagger of the game, once again to left field.
Freshman second baseman Cade Kurland muscled a slow ground ball off the end of his bat in between the first and second baseman, which scored Evans from third.
Purnell and sophomore right-hander Brandon Neely combined to record seven outs of relief after Caglianone’s outing. Neely set down the final four to finish off the 8-0 victory.
The Gators next play two-midweek contests against the South Florida Bulls. The first is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday in Tampa, with the Gators returning to Gainesville the following day for a rematch.
Tuesday’s game will stream on ESPN+.
Contact Ethan Eibe at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @EthanEibe.
Ethan Eibe is a second-year UF sports media major and covers Gators baseball for The Alligator. Outside of his writing, Ethan is a play-by-play broadcaster for UF student radio and has spent two summers announcing professional baseball with the Alpine Cowboys. He is a long-suffering Miami Marlins fan.