Right-handed pitchers junior Hurston Waldrep and sophomore Ryan Slater fooled Siena’s batters all game long. The two pitchers combined for 14 strikeouts as they shut out the Saints to clinch the series-winning victory.
Slater’s learned from his mistakes in the season’s earlier outings, he said, and it helped him produce the performance he had Saturday.
“I was just attacking hitters and really not caring about the outcome,” Slater said.
The No. 6 Florida Gators (14-3) defeated the Siena Saints (2-12) 11-0 Saturday evening at Condron Ballpark. Junior third baseman Colby Halter finished the game with three runs batted in.
UF head coach Kevin O’Sullivan thought his bullpen has gained more confidence as the season has progressed, but there is still work to be done, he said.
“It’s a step in the right direction,” O’Sullivan said. “It’s still a work-in-progress. The next step is to do it against [Southeastern Conference] competition.”
Waldrep got the call for the Gators on the mound. He opened the first inning with back-to-back strikeouts. Waldrep forced a fly out to finish the 1-2-3 inning.
Florida freshman second baseman Cade Kurland singled to right field for the Gators’ first hit of the game. Sophomore designated hitter Jac Caglianone knocked a triple to left center to score the first run of the game.
Junior shortstop Josh Rivera singled to right center to bring Caglianone home. UF failed to add to their advantage with two straight fly outs to end the first up 2-0.
Siena first baseman Vincent DiNicola hit the ball to Kurland to start the second inning. Kurland tossed the ball to junior first baseman Tyler Shelnut. The junior lunged to catch the ball but managed to keep a foot on the base to get DiNicola out.
Saints right fielder Gavin Thorburn singled up the middle for Siena’s first hit of the game.
Waldrep went right back to work after he allowed the hit and struck out Saints catcher Willie Schwarick to strand the runner.
The Gators opened the bottom of the second with two ground outs. Junior third baseman Colby Halter and freshman center fielder Michael Robertson drew walks to extend the inning. Kurland was hit by a pitch to load the bases.
Caglianone prolonged his at-bat and continued to foul off pitches. He finally struck out looking to strand all three runners at the end of the second.
Siena left fielder Louis Percival walked to start the third. Junior shortstop Randall Hien laid down a sacrifice bunt and got on first base after Waldrep struggled to grab the ball.
Center fielder Sean Camacho bunted to advance the runners to second and third base with only one out. Waldrep walked freshman second baseman Aiden Stewart with a full count to load the bases for the Saints.
Waldrep struck out one Siena batter and forced the next into a flyout to escape the inning without allowing any runs.
Shelnut ripped a single past third base with two outs in the bottom of the third. Florida freshman Richie Schiekofer hit a ball that curled into left field for an RBI double to put UF up 3-0. He was caught out after he tried to stretch his double into a triple to end the inning.
The Saints led the fourth inning with a single but stranded the runner after Waldrep forced a fly out and struck out two batters.
Halter walked and Roberston singled to put runners on first and second in the bottom of the fourth. Kurland singled, and the right fielder bobbled the ball, which allowed Halter to score from second.
Caglianone was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Rivera hit into a fielder’s choice but still managed to bring home a run. Senior catcher BT Riopelle hit an RBI double to give Florida a 6-0 lead after four innings.
Slater relieved Waldrep on the mound to start the fifth. Waldrep finished his outing with seven strikeouts and only allowed two hits in four innings pitched.
O’Sullivan thought Waldrep seemed a little out of sorts in his outing, he said. The junior pitcher seemed to arch slightly, he said.
“He ended up spiking a lot of pitches,” O’Sullivan said. “It’s just a minor adjustment.”
Slater struck out the first two batters he faced and ended the inning with a strikeout after he allowed two singles.
Siena lefty Eddia Girtler came in to pitch in the bottom of the fifth but couldn’t slow the Gators’ offense. UF sophomore right fielder Ty Evans reached second base after a single and an error.
Halter saw a pitch and launched it over the right-field wall for a two-RBI home run. Kurland doubled to left field and Caglianone brought him home after the left fielder bobbled and dropped his hit for an error.
The three-RBI performance felt really good, Halter said. The key to his improved play has been trusting himself as a player, he said.
“A lot of it is honestly just relaxing and trusting all the work that I’ve put in all year and all last year,” Halter said.
Siena surrendered another error but got out of the inning after it allowed three more runs. UF led 9-0 after five innings.
Slater gave up a lead-off single but fanned the next two hitters and forced a ground out to end the top of the sixth inning.
The Saints brought in right-handed pitcher Billy Rice to pitch after Shelnut walked to start the bottom of the sixth. Evans hit a ball out to the center fielder, who attempted a diving catch, but the ball slipped past him. The play allowed Shelnut to score and Evans to reach third base.
Halter hit an RBI single to score Evans and bring the score to 11-0 to end the sixth inning.
Slater struck out two hitters and forced a groundout to close the game with a win against the Saints.
Slater struck out seven of the nine batters he got out and allowed three hits in three innings of work. The sophomore pitcher attributed his performance to his comfort on the mound returning, he said.
The Gators will wrap up their series against Siena at 1 p.m. Sunday in Condron Ballpark. The game will be streamed on SEC Network+.
Jackson Reyes is a UF journalism senior and The Alligator's Fall 2023 Sports Editor. He previously served as Digital Managing Editor and was a reporter and assistant editor on the sports desk. In his free time, he enjoys collecting records, long walks on the beach and watching Bo Nix.