After just one day and a pair of ballgames, it’s safe to say Ole Miss fans are tired of seeing Jac Caglianone step up to the plate.
Caglianone already slugged two home runs in the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader in Oxford, Mississippi.
He completed the trifecta in his second at-bat in game two.
Caglianone’s nation-leading 16th home run was the catalyst for UF’s offense in the No. 3 Gators’ (21-4, 4-1 SEC) 12-8 defeat of the No. 13 Ole Miss Rebels (15-8, 0-5 SEC) at Swayze Field.
Gators starting pitcher Hurston Waldrep struck out nine batters over five innings. He weathered a rough third inning where he allowed five runs, but was otherwise his usual splitter-happy self.
Ole Miss freshman right-hander Grayson Saunier endured a rocky start. UF freshman second baseman Cade Kurland reached on a leadoff walk and advanced to second on designated hitter Wyatt Langford’s infield single.
A wild pitch placed both runners in scoring position for Caglianone. He grounded out to the shortstop, scoring Kurland, to deliver the Gators’ first run of the nightcap.
Saunier bounced back to strike out junior shortstop Josh Rivera and senior catcher BT Riopelle and strand Langford on third base.
Florida added its second run in the top of the second inning. Saunier allowed a pair of runners to reach again. This set the table for freshman center fielder Michael Robertson, who thumped an opposite-field single to left field and plated sophomore right fielder Ty Evans.
The Gators’ power bats arrived in the third frame. Caglianone demolished a Saunier offering over the right-center field wall. Following a Rivera single, Riopelle turned around a 1-1 pitch for his fourth longball of the season
Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco dipped into his bullpen for the time. He replaced Saunier with another freshman, righty JT Quinn.
Quinn recorded the inning’s first out before he surrendered a triple to junior third baseman Colby Halter. He scored one batter later when sophomore left fielder Matt Prevesk grounded out to first base to extend UF’s lead to 6-0.
Waldrep cruised for the first pair of innings before he hit a snag in the third. He allowed the Rebels’ first two batters to reach, positioning runners on second and third for center fielder Ethan Groff. The senior doubled to left field, which scored both runners to draw the Gators’ lead to four.
Waldrep induced a ground ball to first base off the bat of Rebels shortstop Jacob Gonzalez, but the ball tipped off Caglianone’s glove and trickled into right field. Groff scored to cut the lead in half, 6-3.
Ole Miss scored its fourth run without recording an out one batter later. Junior left fielder Kemp Alderman smacked a double over the head of Robertson in center, which allowed junior catcher Calvin Harris to score.
Waldrep fanned senior second baseman Peyton Chatagnier to finally record the third inning’s first out. With the bases loaded and one out, right fielder TJ McCants bounced out sharply to Caglianone at first. Gonzalez then scored the Rebels’ fifth run of the frame.
Waldrep escaped the nightmare inning by striking out freshman designated hitter Will Furniss.
Quinn carried over Ole Miss’ new-found life in the top of the fourth. He retired the first three batters in Florida’s lineup in order.
Waldrep returned to the hill in the fourth inning and responded well to the previous frame’s meltdown. The right-hander allowed a base hit with one out but subsequently recorded a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning.
UF improved its situation right away in the top of the fifth inning. Rivera singled to right field and came around to score on a Riopelle triple. Ole Miss gifted UF an 8-5 lead two batters later when Riopelle scored on a wild pitch.
Waldrep racked up three punchouts in the fifth, raising his total on the night to nine.
Florida tacked on another run in the sixth inning on Langford’s first home run since March 5 against Miami.
Gators head coach Kevin O’Sullivan pulled Waldrep after he walked the leadoff man in the sixth inning. Freshman left-hander Cade Fisher replaced him and gave up a double to left from junior third baseman Ethan Lege.
With two men in scoring position, Groff deflected a groundball off Caglianone’s glove at first, but he recovered in time to record the out. McCants scored from third on the play, slicing the Gators lead to 9-6.
Fisher and sophomore righty Nick Ficarrotta combined to pitch a scoreless seventh for the Gators. Ficarrotta tossed a 1-2-3 eighth inning to send UF’s three-run advantage to the ninth.
Florida tacked on three more insurance runs in the ninth inning against Ole Miss right hander Jordan Vera. UF loaded the bags thanks to a pair of hit batters.
Halter then grounded a ball through the second baseman Chatagnier into center field. Rivera and Caglianone both scored on the error. Prevesk followed up with a sacrifice fly to right field, scoring Richie Schiekofer to double up on the Rebels, 12-6.
Ficarrotta handled the ninth inning and yielded a two-run homer to Alderman before he nailed down his first save of the season.
Florida and Ole Miss will face off one last time Sunday afternoon. The Gators will go for the sweep in Oxford at 3 p.m. The game will be streamed on SEC Network+.
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.