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Saturday, April 20, 2024

Michael Robertson propels Gators baseball over UNF 13-4

Robertson finished the contest 4-for-5 with three RBIs

Florida baseball sophomore Michael Robertson follows through on a swing in the team's 13-4 win over UNF on Wednesday, February 21, 2024.
Florida baseball sophomore Michael Robertson follows through on a swing in the team's 13-4 win over UNF on Wednesday, February 21, 2024.

In a baseball lineup, the No. 9 batter might be thought of as the least-threatening hitter in the lineup. 

They can be a possible easy out, and a pitching staff is content with facing them throughout a game. 

When the pitcher batted in a Major League Baseball lineup, they would almost always bat ninth. 

But Tuesday, the ninth hitter in the lineup was the Gators’ best. On a chilly night in Gainesville, sophomore center fielder Michael Robertson finished 4-for-5 with three RBIs and two doubles. He was no easy out. 

“I’m happy anywhere [in the lineup],” Robertson said. “Just being in the lineup is a big enough thing for me. Hit wherever and do my job the best I can.”

Robertson led the No. 4 Gators baseball team (2-1) to its second win of the season, and its second straight over the University of North Florida Ospreys (1-3) 13-4 Wednesday night. 

Freshman right-hander Alex Philpott started on the mound for the Gators. After striking out his first batter, Philpott walked UNF’s Jabin Bates, but Florida senior catcher Tanner Garrison caught Bates stealing. Philpott was then able to get Cherokee Nichols to line out to center field, working a 1-2-3 half inning. 

In the top of the second, Philpott ran into trouble. After walking UNF’s Cade Bush and giving up a single to Matthew Clements, the Ospreys had runners on second and first with one out. 

Tyler Gerteisen then hit a soft line drive down the first base line. Junior first baseman Jac Caglianone showed off his defensive ability, diving for the ball and getting the out at first. It saved a run but put runners on second and third with two outs. 

Philpott then threw a filthy slider to strike out Drew Leinenbach to get out of the inning. The freshman showed some emotion after escaping the jam. 

The freshman then pitched a scoreless top of the third. It was the final inning of his outing, and he finished giving up just two hits while striking out two. 

“I’m really pleased with how Alex pitched,” head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “Alex threw strikes. All three of his pitches were strikes and [he] pitched with a couple of situations with runners on and made some pitches.” 

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Philpott recorded his first win of the season in his first career start. 

 “It was awesome,” Philpott said. “Obviously, there’s the butterflies. But besides that, I felt good coming out of the pen and got through my innings and did my job.”

In the bottom of the first, Florida put together a two-out rally to take an early lead. After two walks and an error, junior right fielder Ty Evans came through with the bases loaded to put Florida up 2-0. Evans ripped a ball through the 5-6 hole, scoring sophomore designated hitter Luke Heyman and shortstop Colby Shelton.

Florida added another run in the bottom of the second. After Robertson hit a single to left field and sophomore second baseman Cade Kurland got hit by a pitch, Caglianone roped the first pitch he saw into center field, allowing Robertson to score. 

It was all the Gators would get in the inning, but they took a 3-0 lead to the top of the third. 

After Garrison led off the bottom of the fourth with a double down the left-field line, Robertson tried to extend a single into a double but was thrown out. Garrison wasn't sent home, but he scored after sophomore second baseman Cade Kurland hit a RBI single into left field, extending the Gators lead to 4-0. 

Later in the inning, junior left fielder Tyler Shelnut hit a line drive into left field, scoring Heyman and Kurland. The Gators added another run in the inning after UNF pitcher Clayton Boroski balked, scoring Shelnut from third and increasing their lead to 7-0. 

Florida pitching ran into trouble again in the top of the sixth. Freshman right-handed pitcher Hunter Jones made his collegiate debut,  but it was a quick one. Jones hit the first batter he faced and then gave up a double to set up UNF with runners on second and third with no outs. 

Junior right-hander Blake Purnell replaced Jones, and he gave up an RBI groundout, an RBI double and an RBI single to decrease the Florida lead to 7-3. 

The Ospreys tacked on another run in the top of the seventh on an RBI single from Cade Bush. Florida’s seven-run lead decreased down to three. 

However, the Gators earned much-needed insurance runs in the bottom of the seventh. Robertson recorded his third hit of the night on an RBI double, scoring Garrison. 

The team then tacked on more runs in the bottom of the eighth, as Shelnut drove in his third runner of the game on an RBI single to right field. A walk drawn by senior third baseman Dale Thomas and a sacrifice fly from Garrison brought in two more runs before Robertson put the game out of reach for good with a two-run double, extending the lead to 13-4.

Brandon Neely saw his first action of the regular season. He pitched a clean 1-2-3 ninth inning, recording two strikeouts on 12 pitches. 

“Regardless of the score, we were going to get Brandon out there tonight,” O’Sullivan said. “He needed to get going a little bit…glad he got out there and did his thing.”

UF will be back in action Friday to begin a three-game series with Columbia University. First pitch is at 6:30 p.m., and the game will be streamed on SEC Network Plus 

Contact Bennett Solomon at bsolomon@alligator.org. Follow him on X @B_Soly11.

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