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Friday, April 12, 2024

Florida defeats Miami behind late offensive push

The Gators hit three home runs on the way to a 7-3 victory

Florida baseball first baseman Jac Caglianone stares the pitcher down in the team's opening night loss to St. John's University on Friday, February 16, 2024.
Florida baseball first baseman Jac Caglianone stares the pitcher down in the team's opening night loss to St. John's University on Friday, February 16, 2024.

Gators sophomore second baseman Cade Kurland walked up to the plate in the seventh inning. Florida led by two and was looking for some extra insurance. With one swing of the bat, Kurland did just that.

The sophomore sent a line-drive home run over the left field wall for his first long ball of the season.

However, the seventh-inning slugfest didn’t stop there. 

The very next batter, junior two-way player Jac Caglianone, crushed a home run to the same exact spot to take a three-run lead. The Gators took a 6-3 lead and never looked back.

The No. 4 Florida Gators (7-2) defeated the Miami Hurricanes (5-4) 7-3 Friday night at Mark Light Field. 

Florida has scored first in all of its victories in 2024. That trend continued on Friday when Hurricanes freshman infielder Antonio Jimenez misplayed a ground ball hit directly to him. It allowed Kurland to score, and Florida held onto its one-run lead until Miami broke onto the scoreboard in the third inning.

Gators sophomore starting pitcher Cade Fisher looked clean in his first two innings and didn’t allow much commotion on the basepaths. However, Fisher surrendered two consecutive singles to begin the third inning and it began to look dire for the Gators with no outs and two runners on.

A 6-4-3 double play looked like the turnaround that would save Fisher’s outing. But a two-run home run four pitches later gave Miami the lead. 

The challenge for the Gators so far in the young season has been fighting back from deficits. 

The team proved they were able and quickly stormed back with a two-run fourth inning. Then in the fifth, freshman catcher Luke Heyman added another run with his third home run of the 2024 campaign.

The slips of offense set up for a back-to-back home run sequence between Kurland and Caglianone two innings later. 

As Florida’s offense gradually tacked on runs, junior pitcher Ryan Slater dominated against Miami’s lineup.

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Slater wasn’t perfect out of the gate. He entered in the fifth inning for Fisher and plunked a batter, then surrendered a four-pitch walk with the bases loaded to give Miami a much-needed run.

It was a 5-3 game, but that was the last time the Hurricanes saw any offensive production.

Slater pitched the next three innings and flawlessly retired nine consecutive batters. In 3 1/3 innings, he allowed no hits, one walk and struck out four batters.

Florida’s premier closer Brandon Neely entered the ninth inning and closed the curtain on the contest for the Game 1 victory of the weekend series.

The Gators will resume play against the Hurricanes at 3 p.m. Saturday at Mark Light Field. The game will be broadcast on the ACC Network.

Contact Luke Adragna at ladragna@alligator.org. 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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