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Friday, May 24, 2024

Florida uses eighth-inning surge in comeback win over Florida State

Gators score five in eighth after trailing for seven innings

Florida right fielder Ty Evans flips his bat after he hit a home run in the Gators' 14-4 win over the Miami Hurricanes Sunday, March 5, 2023.
Florida right fielder Ty Evans flips his bat after he hit a home run in the Gators' 14-4 win over the Miami Hurricanes Sunday, March 5, 2023.

Florida head coach Kevin O’Sullivan turned to his bench in the eighth inning. The Gators had a pair of runners on base and just one out when O’Sullivan brought sophomore outfielder Matt Prevesk in to pinch hit.

Prevesk singled into left field to score the tying run and open the floodgates for Florida. The Gators batted around and took their first lead of the night in a dominant five-run eighth inning that clinched a rivalry victory.

The No. 3 Florida Gators (19-4, 2-1 SEC) defeated the Florida State Seminoles (12-9, 3-3 ACC) 9-5 Tuesday night in Tallahassee, Florida. Sophomore lefty reliever Philip Abner earned the win. He allowed no runs on two hits and struck out six batters in 2 1/3 innings of action.

Sophomore first baseman Jac Caglianone reached first base after the ball hit FSU pitcher Ben Barrett and the glove of shortstop Jordan Carrion. The Gators failed to add to the single, and redshirt sophomore pitcher Tyler Nesbitt took over.

Freshman second baseman Cade Kurland dove to his right to stop a grounder, but his throw to Caglione was just off, and Seminoles first baseman James Tibbs reached first safely. Nesbitt induced a quick ground out to junior shortstop Josh Rivera to strand Tibbs and end the inning.

Barrett retired the Gators 1-2-3 in the second inning, and third baseman Cam Smith ripped a double to left field to start the bottom of the frame. Second baseman Nander De Sedas launched a double to score Smith and get Florida State’s first run of the game.

Rivera had a chance to end the inning with a double play. The junior shortstop snared the ground ball, stepped on second base and flicked the ball to Caglianone at first. His throw was low, however, and the error allowed the Seminoles to score.

Florida junior left fielder Dale Thomas hit a looping double over the extended glove of DeAmez Ross in center field with one out in the third inning. Redshirt freshman center fielder Michael Robertson and freshman second baseman Cade Kurland flied out to left field to strand Thomas.

The Gators nearly ended the third inning with another double play opportunity, but Caglianone couldn’t secure the ball at first. Thomas snagged a high fly ball in shallow left field to end the inning unscathed.

Rivera blasted a double off the right field wall with one out in the fourth. Sophomore right fielder Ty Evans doubled into the left-center gap to score Rivera and get Florida on the board.

Carrion hit a leadoff single off Nesbitt. Right fielder Treyton Rank singled to put two on for the Seminoles with one out. After a fielder’s choice, O’Sullivan pulled Nesbitt for freshman lefty Cade Fisher.

Nesbitt allowed two runs — one earned — on five hits in 3 2/3 innings of work.

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Fisher walked Ross to load the bases with two outs. Florida State left fielder Jaime Ferrer lifted the ball into deep right field and scored a pair of runners. The Gators got the relay from the outfield, and senior catcher BT Riopelle appeared to tag Ross at home plate.

After a replay review, it was ruled that Riopelle didn’t tag Ross, and the Seminoles took a 5-1 lead. Fisher walked another batter, and O’Sullivan pulled the freshman for redshirt sophomore Nick Ficarrotta.

The righty forced a pop-up to Rivera in shallow left field to finally end the fourth inning.

FSU righty Doug Kirkland replaced Barrett in the fifth. He struck out Florida junior third baseman Colby Halter swinging to open the inning. He walked Thomas, but bounced back and struck out Robertson swinging.

Kurland worked a full count and drew a walk. Caglianone came to the plate with two on and two outs. The Gators’ slugger pulled a single into right field and scored Thomas. Rivera grounded out to stand two runners and put Ficarrotta back on the rubber.

Smith dropped a deep fly ball over Thomas in left field, but he had to settle for first base after missing the bag while going for second. Ficarrotta plunked the next batter to put two baserunners on for Florida State. 

The redshirt sophomore responded with a strikeout. O’Sullivan pulled Ficarrotta after the punch out, and Abner took over for Florida. The southpaw forced a quick groundout to end the inning.

Right-hander Conner Whittaker took over for Kirkland. The Seminoles’ fresh arm got Riopelle swinging and caught Evans looking to start the sixth. Junior Gators designated hitter Tyler Shelnut doubled, and Halter came to the plate with one on and two outs.

Florida’s third baseman launched a deep fly ball off the right field fence to score Shelnut, and Halter stretched all the way to third for a triple. Thomas grounded out, and Abner came back to the mound. 

The Gators’ lefty reliever dominated the Seminoles in the bottom of the sixth. Abner struck out all three FSU batters swinging to keep Florida’s deficit at two.

Robertson started the seventh inning with a leadoff walk. Caglianone stepped into the batter’s box after Kurland struck out. The sophomore ripped a double for his third hit of the night, and Robertson came around from first to score.

Caglianone attempted to steal third, but the Seminoles were all over it and tagged him out. Rivera struck out swinging, and the Gators were unable to tie the game in the seventh.

Abner struck out his fourth-straight batter to start the bottom of the frame. Smith and Carrion hit back-to-back singles to put two on for FSU. Abner battled back to earn his fifth strikeout of the night. The lefty struck out another batter to escape the seventh unscathed.

Riopelle started the eighth with a leadoff single for Florida. Evans hit the ball into the dirt, and it bounced over the pitcher’s mound. The weird ricochet caused a miscommunication in the infield and allowed Evans to reach first.

Shelnut went down swinging, and Halter walked to load the bases for Thomas. The Seminoles pulled Jamie Arnold and sent in right-hander Jackson Baumeister. O’Sullivan countered and sent Prevesk in to pinch-hit for Thomas.

He answered for the Gators with a single over the shortstop to score Riopelle and tie the game. Robertson followed with a looping single into left field, and Evans scored to give Florida its first lead of the night.

Caglianone popped the ball into the infield, but it dropped in no man’s land behind the mound. The Seminoles couldn’t make a play on the ball, and the sophomore singled and scored Halter. Rivera continued the Gators’ offensive dominance with a double to send two more runners home.

Florida State pulled Baumeister after Rivera’s double. Lefty Andrew Armstrong came into the game and forced a ground out to end the frame as Florida led 9-5. 

Sophomore closer Brandon Neely replaced Abner in the bottom of the eight. The Seville, Florida, product struck out the first two batters he faced in the inning. Ferrer made good contact with Neely’s pitch, but Evans was there for the fly ball to end a 1-2-3 inning for Florida.

Shelnut and Halter walked after Evans grounded out to start the ninth. The Gators didn’t take advantage of their two baserunners and went to the final frame leading by four. 

Neely gave up a leadoff single to start the final half-inning of action. He nearly forced a ground ball double play, but Kurland’s throw to Caglianone at first base was short. The freshman made up for the hiccup on the next batter. 

He snagged the infield fly ball and threw it to first base to turn two and end the game.

Florida will travel to Oxford, Mississippi, to face the No. 13 Ole Miss Rebels in the Gators’ first road series of the season. First pitch Friday is scheduled for 7:30 p.m., and all three games will be streamed on SEC Network+.

Contact Topher Adams at tadams@alligator.org. Follow him on Twitter @Topher_Adams.

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Topher Adams

Topher Adams is a fourth-year communications major and in his fourth semester with the Alligator. He previously covered football, baseball and women's basketball. He also enjoys professional lacrosse and Major League Soccer.


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