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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Gators baseball loses to South Carolina, drops fifth consecutive game

It’s Florida’s longest losing streak since 2013.

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.

Nearly 8,000 fans attended Condron Family Ballpark on Friday night for a 2023 Super Regional rematch between the South Carolina Gamecocks and Florida Gators.

On a night that was expected to be a premier matchup, everything turned sour.

The stadium was nearly empty before the final out was recorded, and for the first time since the 2013 season, Florida lost five games in a row. 

“At the end of the day, we’ve got to compete more,” head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said after the game. “At some point, this thing has got to turn.”

A losing streak that started on April 5 — the Gators (17-16, 6-7 SEC) were swept by Missouri, lost to No. 10 Florida State on Tuesday and were defeated by South Carolina (24-10, 7-6 SEC), 10-3, in Game 1 of the weekend series with the Gamecocks on Friday night.

It was a low-scoring affair until Gators starter Brandon Neely lost his rhythm in the fifth inning. 

Neely surrendered just two hits in his first four innings. In the first, Gamecocks senior second baseman Parker Noland got under a pitch — and with a little help from the wind — it carried past the right field wall for a solo home run.

The Gators’ right-hander surrendered just one other hit until the fifth inning. But in the fifth, Neely gave up a pair of solo home runs to junior third baseman Talmadge LeCroy and nine-hole hitter Will Tippett.

Despite the struggles, he remained in the game until the seventh, when he gave up one more run before being taken out for sophomore reliever Cade Fisher.

In addition to a spoiled ending from its starting pitcher, Florida’s offense continued to struggle nearly all of Friday.

Other than a surprising, three-hit night from Gators catcher Tanner Garrison and a two-run home run from two-way player Jac Caglianone, it was an unremarkable performance.

The top three hitters in Florida’s order combined for one hit in 12 at-bats. Additionally, the Gators struck out nine times and finished 2-9 with runners in scoring position.

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It didn’t help that Florida’s bullpen also struggled. 

Fisher inherited a runner in the sixth inning and allowed him to score after walking three consecutive batters — the first one intentionally. The run was charged to Neely.

Florida redshirt junior Blake Purnell lasted just one batter and gave up a single. O’Sullivan elected to take him out for junior reliever Ryan Slater, which proved fatal.

When he stepped on the mound, the Gators trailed 5-3. When he stepped off, Florida trailed 10-3.

Slater gave up four runs on five hits and a walk in just one inning pitched. The Gators lost 10-3 after a scoreless ninth inning.

Florida will continue its weekend series with the Gamecocks at 4 p.m. Saturday at Condron Family Ballpark. The game will be broadcast on SEC 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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