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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Shelnut drives in five RBI’s, helps Gators baseball avoid sweep

Florida defeated Vanderbilt 6-2

Florida junior southpaw Jac Caglianone delivers a pitch in the Gators’ 4-3 win against the Mississippi State Bulldogs on Sunday, March 31, 2024.
Florida junior southpaw Jac Caglianone delivers a pitch in the Gators’ 4-3 win against the Mississippi State Bulldogs on Sunday, March 31, 2024.

Florida senior third baseman Tyler Shelnut has been one of the few bright spots for the Gators this season, and he put on a clinic in the batter's box Saturday afternoon.

In the top of the fifth inning, Shelnut came up to bat with two outs and two runners on base.

Down 2-0 in the count, Shelnut located a fastball high in the zone and drove it over the fence, delivering a 3-run shot that gave Florida a 4-2 lead.

Then in the ninth inning, Shelnut once again found himself batting with two outs and two runners on base.

This time, Shelnut sent a 2-RBI double to left center, bringing his total up to 5-RBI’s on the day.

Shelnut’s outstanding prowess at the plate powered the Gators (20-19, 8-10 SEC) to a 6-2 Game 3 victory over No. 13 Vanderbilt (29-11, 10-8 SEC).

The win prevented Florida from being swept for the second time this season as they dropped the overall series 2-1.

The game was scoreless until the bottom of the third inning, when the Commodores put two  runs on the board.

Vanderbilt freshman designated hitter Colin Barczi led off the inning with a double down the right field line, before junior third baseman Davis Diaz was walked.

Senior catcher Alan Espinal hit a 2-RBI double down the left field line that scored Barczi and Diaz.

The Gators responded in the top of the fourth, as sophomore shortstop Colby Shelton doubled, before sophomore second baseman Cade Kurland hit a double into right center that scored Shelton with two outs.

Next up to bat was Florida sophomore left fielder Landon Russell, but when his at-bat reached a full count, chaos ensued.

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The officials paused the game, citing that rosin, a foreign substance, was being rubbed on the ball by Vanderbilt sophomore pitcher JD Thompson. Ultimately, Thompson was ejected from the game for the offense.

He was set to be replaced by freshman pitcher Ethan McElvain, but while throwing a warmup pitch, he injured his back and had to be replaced. Finally, Vanderbilt put freshman pitcher Luke Guth into the game, and he got out of the inning.

In the top of the fifth, Florida senior center fielder Jaylen Guy was hit by a pitch, before junior pitcher Jac Caglianone drew a walk.

Shelnut delivered his three-run bomb that gave the Gators their first lead of the game, which they would not surrender.

Caglianone’s day as a pitcher ended after five innings, only surrounding the 2 earned runs and striking out five.

The pitcher came into the game tied for the NCAA record with nine consecutive games with a home run, but he was unable to break the tie.

Cagalione went one for three, and was intentionally walked on his last at bat in the top of the ninth, which denied him a final opportunity to shatter the record.

He would score another run In the top of the ninth, as Shelnut hit a 2-RBI double that put the Gators up 6-2.

Caglianone was replaced on the mound by Florida sophomore pitcher Cade Fisher, who hit a batter and walked two more hitters.

With the bases loaded for Vanderbilt in the bottom of the sixth, the Gators made another change, turning to junior pitcher Fisher Jameson.

Not only did Jameson get the Gators out of the jam in the sixth, but he threw the remaining three and a third innings, only allowing one hit and striking out six batters to secure the Gator win.

Florida will return home Tuesday for a midweek matchup against Stetson at 6:30 p.m.

Contact Max Bernstein at Follow him on X @maxbernstein23.

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