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Friday, June 02, 2023

Caglianone deals, Gators provide run support to take series against Miami

Grand slam from Riopelle, three-homer eighth inning gave UF mercy rule win

UF junior shortstop Josh Rivera celebrates turning a double play to end the top of the eighth inning of No. 6 Florida’s 14-4 mercy-rule win against the No. 22 Miami Hurricanes at Condron Ballpark Sunday, March 5, 2023.
UF junior shortstop Josh Rivera celebrates turning a double play to end the top of the eighth inning of No. 6 Florida’s 14-4 mercy-rule win against the No. 22 Miami Hurricanes at Condron Ballpark Sunday, March 5, 2023.

It’s not often that BT Riopelle steps back to admire his work.

That’s just what the senior catcher did when he launched a grand slam to the lawn chairs over right-center field. He extended the Gators’ lead to 8-0 over Miami in the second inning. 

The No. 6 Florida Gators (10-3) slugged four home runs to complement sophomore two-way player Jac Caglianone’s six inning performance against the No. 22 Miami Hurricanes (8-4) in a 14-4 win Sunday afternoon at Condron Ballpark. 

Florida won the weekend series two games to one after defeating Miami Friday and dropping the second game Saturday.

Caglianone struck out eight batters across his six innings and allowed only one run. Junior left fielder Wyatt Langford, junior shortstop Josh Rivera and junior right fielder Ty Evans joined Riopelle in the home run parade. 

Evans’ two-run shot in the bottom of the eighth put UF ahead by 10 and triggered the mercy-rule ending.

“I felt a lot more like myself today than I have in the last few weeks,” said Riopelle, whose grand slam was his first home run since opening day.

Caglianone gave credit to Riopelle’s catching. Riopelle has not caught Caglianone since the fall, Riopelle said.

“BT did a good job of keeping me in tune,” Caglianone said.

Caglianone blew the Hurricanes away in the first inning. Senior center fielder Dario Gomez grounded out to second to begin the game before Caglianone struck out the next two batters swinging to end the frame.

The Gators gave Caglianone plenty of run support in the first inning. UF batted around and recorded four straight two-out RBI singles against Miami starting pitcher Alejandro Rosario to take a 4-0 lead. 

Riopelle, Evans, freshman center fielder Michael Robertson and sophomore first baseman Deric Fabian each found gaps in the Hurricanes’ infield on their run-scoring hits. 

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Caglianone put together another 1-2-3 inning, including two strikeouts, in his second inning of work. 

Rosario, on the other hand, would not last beyond the second inning. Rosario gave up a double to Langford and walked the last two batters he faced. Miami head coach Gino DiMare dipped into his bullpen for the first time and brought in senior righty Carlos Lequerica to pitch.

The move backfired immediately against Riopelle, whose grand slam doubled the lead. 

Caglianone allowed his first baserunner in the third inning when he walked Miami lead off batter Ian Farrow. He buckled down and retired the next three batters in order, earning his fifth strikeout in the process. 

Florida tacked on its ninth run of the game in the bottom of the third when freshman second baseman Cade Kurland lofted a single to center off the end of his bat to bring around junior third baseman Colby Halter. 

Kurland has now recorded at least one hit in all 11 of his starts this season.

Sophomore right-hander Alejandro Torres replaced Lequerica and kept the Gators’ bats at bay for the rest of the inning. He induced back-to-back line outs from Caglianone and Langford. 

Caglianone worked through his first laborious inning in the fourth. He allowed the first hits of his outing when he faced the top of Miami’s batting order. Junior right fielder Zach Levenson drove in the Hurricanes’ first run with a sacrifice fly to right-center field. 

Caglianone then got UM second baseman Blake Cyr to fly out to center. However, the play was recalled because the umpires granted a timeout to Cyr just before he swung. 

Florida head coach Kevin O’Sullivan exited the dugout to argue the call, as the play would have ended the inning. Caglianone’s resolve held firm; he struck out Cyr looking to finally end Miami’s rally. 

Florida’s starter recorded a scoreless fifth inning. Caglianone allowed one more hit but continued to roll through the Hurricanes’ lineup. 

Meanwhile, Torres settled into the ballgame and kept Florida off the scoreboard in the fourth and fifth innings. He faced the minimum and allowed only one baserunner on a hit by pitch. 

A strike-out, throw-out double play against the Gators helped Torres get through the fifth. Robertson was hosed trying to steal second base on the same pitch that struck out Fabian.

Caglianone faced little resistance in his final inning. He surrendered a base hit to UM third baseman Yohandy Morales and put out the final two batters to wrap up his outing. His final pitch left Levenson frozen at the plate on strike three. 

Junior righty Ben Chestnutt replaced Torres and pitched scoreless sixth and seventh innings for the Hurricanes. Kurland and Robertson recorded hits against him, but Chestnutt never allowed the Gators to gather any momentum.

O’Sullivan called upon sophomore right-hander Brandon Neely for the first time in the series. He sent down the Hurricanes in order in the seventh and struck out a pair. 

The top of the eighth inning was a different story, however. Neely struck out UM shortstop Dominic Pitelli before allowing the next five batters to reach.

Sophomore left fielder Edgardo Villegas doubled off the right-center field wall to score sophomore Renzo Gonzalez all the way from first base. 

Morales then singled up the middle to bring around Villegas. Levenson banged a double to the right-field corner to end Neely’s afternoon. 

O’Sullivan brought in freshman lefty Cade Fisher with UF holding on to a 9-4 advantage. Fisher inherited a one out, runners on second and third situation. 

Rivera’s defense at shortstop shined through when he snared a line drive off the bat of Cyr and doubled off Levenson at second to extinguish a dire situation. 

“Cade (Fisher) has proven he can handle the stage,” O’Sullivan said.

Florida responded with an emphatic offensive outburst. 

Langford greeted new Miami reliever Ronaldo Gallo with a two-run longball to the left-field bullpen — his sixth homer of the season — to put UF ahead 11-4. Left-hander Chris Scinta took over for Gallo and allowed an opposite field home run to Rivera that just escaped the ballpark. 

Riopelle caused even more chaos when he thumped a triple to right-center field. Miami’s center and right fielders collided on the play, and Villegas left the game with an injury. Scinta was then pulled with an undisclosed injury of his own.

Freshman righty Sebastian Perez was Miami’s third and final reliever of the inning. He faced only one batter, Evans, with Riopelle on third. Evans turned around an 0-1 pitch for a two-run homer to the left-field berm that ended the ballgame thanks to the mercy rule. 

The five-run eighth inning secured UF’s fourth win via the mercy rule this season. The program also set an attendance record this weekend. Condon Ballpark hosted 22,830 spectators this weekend, the most in a series in program history.

Florida sets its sights on a two game home series with the Florida Atlantic Owls this week. The first game of the series is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday and will be streamed on SEC Network+

Contact Ethan Eibe at Follow him on Twitter @EthanEibe.

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Ethan Eibe

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.

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