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Sunday, June 16, 2024

Florida earns much-needed series win over No. 9 Georgia

The Gators offense put together a huge 12-run fourth inning in the victory

Gators baseball left-handed pitcher Jac Caglianone pitches the ball in the team's 12-5 win over Columbia University on Sunday, February 25, 2024.
Gators baseball left-handed pitcher Jac Caglianone pitches the ball in the team's 12-5 win over Columbia University on Sunday, February 25, 2024.

The Florida baseball team needed to come away with a win in its final game of the regular season to become eligible for the NCAA Tournament.

Junior two-way star Jac Caglianone took the mound for likely his last regular-season start donning orange and blue. Though, it wasn’t the start Caglianone was hoping for.

The Gators found themselves in a deficit in the opening innings after falling behind 3-0 after the second frame. With their backs against the wall and NCAA Regional hopes in doubt, UF’s bats got hot in a hurry.

Its offense erupted for a 12-run top of the fourth, and it never looked back as UF ended its season on a high note with a dominant victory over SEC foe Georgia.

Florida (28-26, 13-17 SEC) dismantled No. 9 Georgia (39-14, 17-13 SEC) 14-3 largely in part from the Gators’ 12-run fourth inning to earn a win in Athens, Saturday afternoon.

Freshman infielder Tre Phelps opened the scoring for the Bulldogs on a fielder’s choice in the top of the first to score senior catcher Corey Collins from third. 

Redshirt sophomore first baseman Charlie Condon followed through in the next frame with a two-RBI double to left field and extended UGA’s lead to 3-0. 

But,the Gators showed no signs of quitting.

UF’s offense got things going with sophomore outfielder Ashton Wilson in the top of the fourth with a lead-off single to right field. Wilson set the stage for a two-run home run for Caglianone to cut the Georgia lead to 3-2.

Sophomore shortstop Colby Shelton tripled to center field in the very next at bat and scored on a fielder’s choice to tie the game. But Florida’s offense was far from being done firing away.

Sophomore second baseman Cade Kurland launched an opposite-field home run to give UF its first lead of the game at 4-3.

With two runners on, sophomore center fielder Michael Robertson came up with an RBI-single to left field and later scored on a double from Wilson extending Florida’s lead to 7-3.

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The Gators tacked on five more runs all with two outs in frame. Heyman crushed a bases-clearing double to left-center field with three runners on to score Shelton, Caglianone and Wilson.

After Shelton recorded his second double of the inning to plate Heyman, Georgia was finally able to stop the bleeding and give its offense a chance to fight back.

But the Bulldogs didn’t show much bite. UGA faced its largest deficit of the series at 12-3 and was on the brink of getting mercy ruled when the Gators continued to apply pressure in the top of the fifth inning withRobertson. He tallied two more RBIs with a single to center field.

Georgia failed to plate a run from the second inning through the seventh but was far from throwing in the towel.

The Bulldogs facilitated a five-run bottom of the eighth inning to cut Florida’s lead to 16-11 as momentum seemed to be shifting back into Georgia’s favor.

The Gators scored two insurance runs in the seventh inning  and three in the eighth to give UF just enough of a cushion to hold off a late comeback mustered by Georgia.

Florida will now await its opponent for the first round of the SEC Tournament in Hoover, Alabama, on Monday. The Gators are currently projected to be a No. 9-seed in the bracket.

Contact Max Tucker at Follow him on X @Max_Tuckr1.

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Max Tucker

Max Tucker is a junior transfer student at UF. After obtaining his A.A. in Journalism from Santa Fe College in 2023, he chose further his education at Florida's College of Journalism and Communications. Max is currently pursuing his Bachelor of Science in Journalism with a specialization in sports and media. He enjoys golfing and going to the beach with his friends in his free time.

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