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Monday, May 20, 2024

No. 8 Florida falls to Florida State in rivalry matchup

Florida’s pitching struggled yet again in a loss to the Seminoles

Florida baseball head coach Kevin O'Sullivan takes a mound visit during the Gators' win over Columbia University on Saturday, February 24, 2024.
Florida baseball head coach Kevin O'Sullivan takes a mound visit during the Gators' win over Columbia University on Saturday, February 24, 2024.

Florida sophomore second baseman Cade Kurland stood ready behind home plate as Florida fans expressed concern in the crowd entering the fourth scoreless, 7-0. 

But he kept his composure and took a deep breath before his next swing. 

Kurland, with the bases loaded, effortlessly launched the ball deep into left field for not only the first home run for the Gators but the much-needed offensive boost Florida needed to stay in the game. 

UF now stood in the fourth within reach of a win. But the Gators’ lack of consistency ultimately caught up with them in a loss. 

The No. 8 Florida Gators (10-6) fell to the Florida State Seminoles (15-0) 12-8 at home at Condron Family Ballpark Tuesday evening. UF failed to play a clean defensive game and perpetuated rounds of unfulfilled pitchers. 

“We kinda scripted it before the game,” head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said “This is what we expect Alex [Philpott] to do in max three innings, and [we] try to follow a freshman with an older guy. We tried to set everything perfectly for them, but it obviously didn't go the way we wanted it to. 

Philpott, a freshman righty, started on the mound for the Gators. 

To start the bottom half of the first inning, Gators sophomore catcher Luke Hyeman roped a double down the left field line. 

Then, UF sophomore shortstop Colby Shelton lined the ball deep into  right field but it was caught by Florida State right fielder James Tibbs, failing to bring Heyman home to close out the first inning. 

The second inning proved to be more difficult for Philpott as he surrendered a single and walked the next two batters. The freshman righty quickly found himself drowning when three Seminole runs were scored in the next few minutes. An error from Kurland when he failed to quickly grasp a handle on the ball as it flew past him into the outfield.   

O’Sullivan rushed out of the dugout to talk with his team. He quickly replaced Philpott with junior right-hander Fisher Jameson. The freshman pitched 1 2/3 innings and struck out one batter. 

Despite the pitching change, trouble continued to follow the Gators. A single to right-center from the Seminoles led to a scored run. FSU quickly led 4-0 within the first three innings. 

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UF’s third pitching change included freshman right-hander Grayson Smith, but the third switch quickly created no change for Florida’s defense. 

Smith surrendered a home run from Tibbs, who brought home two runners and pushed the Seminoles’ lead to 7-0 over the Gators. 

Nearing the end of the fourth, things started looking up for the Gators. Shelton reached first base on a dropped third strike, and a single deep into right-center field from Tyler Shelnut loaded the bases for the Gators. A flyout from senior Dale Thomas brought home Shelton for the first Florida run scored of the evening. 

Kurland’s grand slam brought Florida back into the game, making the contest 7-5. 

Florida cruised through the fifth inning, but the offensive run was short-lived. FSU responded in the sixth with a dominant inning, scoring three runs. 

The final innings were filled with a series of base hits where Florida State was able to add two runs.  

UF still fought towards the end with a single to right field from Evans. He later scored on a wild pitch to give Florida another run. 

Later in the ninth, Evans hit a two-run, inside-the-park home run, cutting the lead to 12-8. Though, it wasn't enough to make a comeback, allowing Florida State to begin the season 15-0 and hand UF its sixth loss. 

Next, Florida will begin its weekend series against undefeated Texas A&M Friday at 6 p.m. at Condron Family Ballpark The game will be broadcast on SEC Network +. 

Contact Alyssa Britton-Harr at Follow her on Twitter @abrittonharr.

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Alyssa Britton-Harr

Alyssa Britton-Harr is a second-year journalism major and a sports reporter for The Alligator. In her free time, she enjoys cheering on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and spending time with her friends. 

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