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Friday, April 12, 2024

Florida cruises past Bethune-Cookman to wrap up midweek slate

The Gators will play Miami over the weekend

Gators baseball freshman left-hander Robert Satin pitches the ball in the team's 13-4 win over the University of North Florida on Wednesday, February 21, 2024.
Gators baseball freshman left-hander Robert Satin pitches the ball in the team's 13-4 win over the University of North Florida on Wednesday, February 21, 2024.

Against the Stetson Hatters, a team Florida had lost to just once in the last 15 years, UF’s offense failed miserably to come together as a unit. 

The Gators left 10 runners on base and struck out 11 times. It marked a season-high in strikeouts and was the first time Florida’s offense logged more strikeouts than walks in a game this year.

“We didn’t handle last night very well in a lot of different areas,” head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “Starting pitching was not what we probably thought and then offensively we didn’t score in the first when we had opportunities.”

O’Sullivan said the biggest surprise from Tuesday was his team’s response to pressure. 

“We didn’t handle the pressure of that game that got to that point very well,” he said. “We looked a little bit out of sorts. So, that was something we talked about today.” 

The Gators lost 7-4, but a new day presented a new opportunity against Bethune-Cookman on Wednesday. 

Florida looked more on brand. The No. 4 Gators (6-2) jumped out to a quick, 4-0 lead and cruised past the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats (4-4) 9-2.

“It was good to bounce back from last night’s loss,” O’Sullivan said. “I have been pleased with how we’ve been scoring early in the game, but we’ve got to continue to add on.”

There is one common characteristic in all of Florida’s victories: starting with a lead. 

When the Gators score first, they’re 6-0. When they don’t, they’re winless. 

So, when Florida starting pitcher Fisher Jameson held the Wildcats to no runs, the first step in the process was done.

The top two hitters in the Gators’ lineup, outfielder Michael Robertson and two-way player Jac Caglianone, reached base, and all the pieces came together.

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Florida swiftly plated four runs.

Robertson completed his trip around the basepaths and scored on a wild pitch. Shortstop Colby Shelton added three more runs on a towering home run that landed over the right field wall and into the Gators’ bullpen.

The early, 4-0 lead alleviated the pressure on Florida’s pitchers and allowed them to cruise throughout a majority of the contest. 

Jameson settled in despite a couple of bumps early on and nearly pitched three scoreless innings before he was pulled for freshman lefty Robert Satin with two outs in the third inning.

Satin absorbed the bulk of work out of the bullpen and lasted until the top of the sixth. 

He faced 12 batters and struck out four in 57 pitches. O’Sullivan elected to pull the lefty after he surrendered a two-out walk for freshman reliever Reilly Witmer. 

Witmer walked two consecutive batters, and in came right-hander Blake Purnell with the bases loaded. Purnell, as cool as ever, forced junior outfielder AJ Smith to ground out to first for the final out.

The Wildcats were held scoreless until the eighth inning. Purnell allowed his first two batters to reach base and was pulled for freshman reliever Alex Philpott. Philpott allowed the two runners to score and pitched the final two innings of the contest to secure the victory for Florida. 

Gators utility player Tyler Shelnut was the main contributor offensively and went 3-for-4 with a single, double and solo home run.

Florida will travel to Coral Gables, Florida, and play the Miami Hurricanes (5-2) at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Alex Rodriguez Park. The game will be broadcast on the ACC Network. 

Contact Luke Adragna at Follow him on Twitter @lukeadrag.

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Luke Adragna

Luke Adragna is a third-year journalism student and the Florida Gators football reporter at The Alligator. He is a cat ethusiast and completes the NYT Daily Mini in less than a minute each day.

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