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Gainesville, Florida

Florida tosses combined shutout against Bethune-Cookman

15 days ago
Florida Athletics
Photo: Florida Athletics

GAINESVILLE, Fla. - Led by starting pitcher Tyler Nesbitt, a trio of Gator hurlers blanked Bethune-Cookman to deliver a 7-0 shutout victory at Condron Family Ballpark on Tuesday night.

Nesbitt scattered four hits and two walks across the first four innings of play, while right-handed relievers Nick Ficarrotta (four innings) and Blake Purnell (one inning) navigated Florida (30-18, 11-13 SEC) through the remainder of the game as Bethune-Cookman (21-27, 15-9 SWAC) managed just one hit against the Gator bullpen. In pitching a combined shutout, the trio allowed just five hits while striking out 11 Wildcats.

The Gators jumped out to a two-run lead in the first. Wyatt Langford led off with a four-pitch walk, then came in to score on a Sterlin Thompson single that was aided by a throwing error from Bethune-Cookman shortstop Matthew Garcia. With two outs, Jac Caglianone drove in Thompson with an RBI single to center field.

Florida added a third run in the second inning, quickly loading up the bases on a pair of walks and a hit-by-pitch. Thompson then drew the Gators' third walk of the inning, forcing home Mac Guscette to make it 3-0.

Nesbitt settled in after allowing three baserunners in the opening frame, holding the Wildcats scoreless through four innings of work. Nesbitt was then lifted at the onset of the fifth, as Ficarrotta took over on the mound for the Orange & Blue.

Ficarrotta worked a clean fifth, finishing the frame with his first strikeout of the night. He produced another zero in the following inning, working around a two-out single while striking out two more Wildcats.

After another scoreless inning from Ficarrotta in the seventh, the Gators added to their advantage in the bottom half. On a 1-0 count, Langford connected for a solo home run to left, marking his 16th long ball of the campaign.

The Gators effectively put the game away in the bottom of the eighth by stringing together a three-run inning. Josh Rivera started it off with an RBI single through the left side to score pinch runner Corey Robinson, followed by a sacrifice fly to left field off the bat of Colby Halter. Thompson capped off the outburst with an RBI double down the right-field line that plated Guscette and brought the score to its final tally of 7-0.

Purnell entered in the ninth and quietly closed the game down, using just six pitches to fire a clean frame.

Nesbitt (2-3) earned the victory, pitching four shutout innings in a controlled start. The right-hander allowed four hits and two walks while striking out four.

Bethune-Cookman starting pitcher Alec Mendez dropped to 0-2, allowing three earned runs across one-plus inning. He surrendered two hits and four walks while striking out one.

Thompson (2-for-4) and Rivera (2-for-4) collected multiple hits in the victory.

NOTABLES

  • Florida has now won 30-or-more games in 13 out of 14 full seasons under Head Coach Kevin O'Sullivan (only 17 games were played in the shortened 2020 campaign).
  • The 7-0 victory marked Florida's third shutout of the 2022 season. The Gators previously shut out Jacksonville on March 8 (1-0) and Florida A&M on March 2 (17-0). Tuesday was Florida's first shutout of Bethune-Cookman since defeating the Wildcats, 4-0, on June 1, 2012.
  • Nesbitt pitched a season-high four innings on Tuesday night.
  • The Gators improved to 13-2 against in-state teams and 11-1 in midweek contests during the 2022 season.
  • Florida is now 36-1 all-time vs. Bethune-Cookman including a 35-1 mark at home. Florida is 16-1 vs. the Wildcats under O'Sullivan. The Gators have now won five-straight against Bethune-Cookman.
  • Florida has now won five-straight games. The Gators have won seven of their last eight games.
  • Thompson extended his on-base streak to 17 games.

FROM HEAD COACH KEVIN O'SULLIVAN

On tonight's pitching...

"[Nesbitt] is coming off of Tommy John, so it's been a long journey for him. He threw well tonight. A lot of early contact and threw strikes when we needed. I thought the pitching overall was really good tonight. Fic threw 34 pitches over four and that's about as good as Blake has looked in a while, too. His sinker was sharp tonight. I know it was only one inning, but his stuff looked really good. From a pitching standpoint, I thought we were sharp tonight."

On Nesbitt's season-high four innings...

"He settled in and made some pitches when he needed to. Every time out is a new experience for him. It's been a long journey for him to come back from Tommy John... I'm pleased with how he threw."

On Ficarrotta's performance...

"His slider looked as good as it has been all year long... he threw a lot of pitches down in the strike zone at the knees. When you get a lot of ground balls like he was getting, that's about as good as it can get. I don't care if it's a Tuesday night or a Friday night in our league, 34 pitches over four is pretty good."

UP NEXT

Florida travels to Columbia, Mo. this upcoming weekend for a three-game series against the Missouri Tigers. The series will span from Friday, May 13 to Sunday, May 15 and all three games will stream on SEC Network+.