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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Gators lose series-opener to Vanderbilt

Florida couldn’t come back after a 90-minute weather delay

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.

 

After Florida’s series-losing loss against South Carolina on Saturday, Gators head coach Kevin O’Sullivan didn’t hold back on the several issues that arose during the game.

From pitching, to hitting, to “everything”, there were several mistakes Florida made — mistakes that didn’t just sneak up on the team. 

“I saw it coming,” the Gators skipper said bluntly.

On March 6, O’Sullivan held a team meeting to try to fix the team’s issues before it worsened. Despite getting positive acknowledgment from his players, the mistakes continued.

“There wasn’t much urgency because we hadn’t gotten to the meat of the schedule,” O’Sullivan said. “I've been doing this long enough to know, even though you might be winning some games and some series, that you're not playing fundamentally clean, winning baseball.”

Florida’s toughest stretch of the season began Thursday with a three-game slate against the No. 13 Vanderbilt Commodores. It will continue with a road series against No. 2 Arkansas, a home series against No. 4 Tennessee and wrap up with a home series against No. 3 Kentucky.

The Gators didn’t get off to a good start in Game 1. Florida (19-18, 7-9 SEC) fell to the Commodores (28-10, 9-7 SEC) 10-5 at Hawkins Field.

After cruising through the first five innings, the game came to a sudden halt with two outs in the sixth inning. Lightning crept into the area and led to a 90 minuteto a 90 minute weather delay.

It painfully extended the eventual loss for Florida.

Tied at two runs apiece, Gators right-handed starter Brandon Neely fared well against Vanderbilt’s lineup through the first four innings. However, that swiftly reversed in the fifth.

Neely surrendered five hits and five runs. Nine different Commodores appeared at the plate in the fifth inning.

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The disaster only worsened when O’Sullivan questionably decided to bring Neely out for one more frame.

On his first pitch of the sixth, Vanderbilt left fielder Troy LaNeve homered to dead-center and extended the Commodores’ lead to 8-3.

Florida’s skipper finally took Neely out after he surrendered another home run and hit a batter. 

O’Sullivan seemingly waved the white flag when he brought out utilityman Landon Russell for his second relief appearance of the season.

Then, the weather delay began. 

Florida freshman reliever Grayson Smith came in 90 minutes later and wrapped up the sixth. However, he recorded just one out and surrendered two runs the next inning.

Eventually, Smith was taken out for freshman southpaw Frank Menendez, who dominated for two scoreless innings.

But it didn’t matter. 

The Gators offense scored once more on a two-run shot by UF two-way junior Jac Caglianone in the seventh. It was Caglianone’s eighth-straight game with a home run. 

Florida will continue its weekend series with the Commodores at 7 p.m. Friday at Hawkins Field. The game will be broadcast on SEC Network+. 

Contact Luke Adragna at ladragna@alligator.org. Follow him on X @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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