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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Gators baseball gets swept by Missouri

The Tigers were 1-8 in SEC play prior to the weekend series

The Florida baseball infield during a mound visit in the team's win over Mississippi State on Sunday, March 31, 2024.
The Florida baseball infield during a mound visit in the team's win over Mississippi State on Sunday, March 31, 2024.

Trailing 7-1 in the final game of the series, Florida came back and evened the score at eight runs apiece, eventually taking a 10-8 lead in the eighth inning. The Gators led by two runs and were one out away from winning.

But it wasn’t over yet. 

Missouri scored three runs — two with two outs — to come back and complete the series sweep over Florida.

The No. 6 Florida Gators (17-14, 6-6) were swept by the Missouri Tigers (14-18, 3-8 SEC) and lost 11-10 Sunday afternoon at Taylor Stadium. Florida was swept by Missouri for the first time in program history.

The Gators’ brand of baseball looked entirely different throughout the weekend. The locker room was plagued by offensive struggles and tallied just four runs on nine hits throughout the first two games.

Florida lost on Friday night, 2-1, after recording two hits and six base runners the entire game. 

The Gators’ pitching kept them in it behind phenomenal outings from starter Brandon Neely, sophomore left-hander Cade Fisher and freshman reliever Luke McNeillie. The trio surrendered just one run through nine innings. 

However, a walk-off single by Missouri catcher Jedier Hernandez in the 11th inning was enough for the Tigers’ Game 1 victory.

Like Friday, Saturday’s game was also decided by just one run. 

The Gators fought back from a two-run deficit but eventually lost, 4-3, after leaving five runners on base in the final three innings. Again, it marked another night where Florida’s pitching performed well, but its offense staggered.

Eventually, the offense found its footing in the final game of the series on Sunday. But, a miserable start from Florida southpaw Jac Caglianone created a scenario seemingly too difficult to surmount.

Caglianone entered the contest with a 3-0 record and 2.18 ERA on the hill. However, the astounding numbers didn’t tell the complete story. 

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Caglianone has had struggles with his command, averaging six walks per nine innings before Sunday, and it eventually caught up to him in his start. 

Caglianone surrendered seven runs in the first two innings. 

In his first inning of work, he gave up four runs on three walks and two wild pitches. The southpaw followed with a three-run second inning where the Tigers tallied four consecutive singles.

Caglianone was removed for Florida reliever Blake Purnell with one out in the second inning, who helped conserve the Gators’ deficit as UF’s offense gradually tallied runs throughout the middle innings.

Florida hit four home runs Sunday. Gators sophomore first baseman Luke Heyman hit a solo home run in the second, Caglianone hit a two-run shot in the sixth and Florida shortstop Colby Shelton had two two-run blasts — one in the third and one in the eighth, which gave Florida a 10-8 lead.

In the top of the ninth, the Gators had the bases loaded and failed to score a run after striking out three consecutive times.

Fisher returned for the ninth inning and walked the first two batters he faced. After a squeeze bunt put the tying runners in scoring position, Fisher was taken out for McNeillie.

The freshman right-hander threw a wild pitch and surrendered a double to even the score at 10 runs apiece. Then, Tigers outfielder Jeric Curtis hit a walk-off single to complete the series sweep for Missouri.

 The Gators will return to action against the No. 14 Florida State Seminoles at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Mike Martin Field. The game will be broadcast on ESPN2.

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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