Late comeback effort pushes Florida past Seminoles
Tallahassee, Fla. - No. 3 Florida used a five-run eighth inning to come from behind and top Florida State by a score of 9-5 at Dick Howser Stadium on Tuesday night.
Jac Caglianone (4-for-5) led the Gators at the plate with a team-high three RBI. Lefty Philip Abner was stellar for the Orange & Blue on the mound, shutting out FSU over 2 1/3 frames of relief.
The Seminoles (12-9, 3-3 ACC) put two runs on the Gators (19-4, 2-1 SEC) in the second after a scoreless first inning. Nander De Sedas drove in the first with an RBI double to left-center and later came in to score on a fielder's choice by Colton Vincent.
Gators starter Tyler Nesbitt blanked the Noles in the third, allowing the Orange & Blue to chip away at the deficit in the top of fourth. Josh Rivera picked up a one-out two-bagger with a blast off the right-center field wall, then came in to score on a two-out double to left-center by Ty Evans.
Florida State added on in the fifth. With the bases loaded and two men down, Jaime Ferrer cleared the bags with a three-run double to right field.
Saddled with a 5-1 deficit, the Gators responded with one run the next half inning. Dale Thomas and Cade Kurland drew walks, with the former crossing home on an RBI single to right field off the bat of Caglianone.
Florida scored for the third and fourth-straight frames in the sixth and seventh. Following a two-out double by Tyler Shelnut, Colby Halter tripled off the right-center field wall. In the seventh, Caglianone doubled home Robertson to make it 5-4 with a hard ground ball down the right-field line.
Having drawn within one run, the Gators offense erupted for a five-run eighth inning to grab the lead. With the bases loaded, Matt Prevesk knotted the contest with an RBI single to left field. Thereafter, the trio of Robertson, Caglianone and Rivera followed with run-scoring singles of their own, with Rivera driving in a pair to cap off the inning.
With a newfound 9-5 advantage, Florida called on closer Brandon Neely out of the bullpen. The right-hander quickly worked a clean frame in the eighth before cementing the victory with a nine-pitch ninth inning.
Abner (2-0) secured the victory, blanking the Noles across 2 1/3 innings of relief. He surrendered just two hits and struck out six.
Seminoles reliever Jamie Arnold (1-2) was charged with the loss. The southpaw gave up three earned runs over one-third of an inning, allowing two hits and one walk while striking out one batter.
Nesbitt received the no-decision, allowing four runs (three earned) across 3 2/3 innings. He allowed five hits and one walk. FSU starting pitcher Ben Barrett also did not factor into the decision after allowing one run across four innings on four hits and two strikeouts.
- The Gators have won 20 of the last 24 meetings against the Noles.
- Florida improves to 125-131-1 against FSU including 46-71-1 in Tallahassee Florida is 33-19 in the series under Head Coach Kevin O'Sullivan
- Abner extended his scoreless streak to seven innings spanning four appearances. The outing marked his third scoreless relief appearance of the season of two or more innings.
- Caglianone tied his career high with four hits.
- Prevesk knotted the game at 5-5 with a pinch-hit RBI single in the eighth.
- Florida has struck out double-digit batters in 17 of 23 games.
- Rivera extended his team-leading reached base streak to 22 games (25 including the 2022 season.
- Robertson extended his own on-base streak to 19 games.
- Florida has struck out 252 batters in 187 innings - translating to 12.1 per nine innings.
- Through 23 games, Florida has a run differential of plus-124.
- The Gators have scored in 95 of 176 batted innings this season (60.0%). The Gators have 252 hits through 23 games (10.9 hits/game).
FROM HEAD COACH KEVIN O'SULLIVAN
On the comeback win...
"Started the game a little bit slow. Thought we were on our heels a little bit. First time we've been on the road in a while, but we hung in there. I thought Tyler [Nesbitt] did a nice job... I thought the three relievers were really good. They all did their job. Obviously, Jac had a big night at the plate with four hits. And obviously the big at bat by Matt Prevesk was huge for us."
On Caglianone finding his stroke...
"It's baseball. It's a game of percentages. The streak that he's been on has been something that's been nothing short of remarkable. So, it was good to see him get back on track tonight."
On the late contributions ...
"This was a really good crowd tonight. I think that's maybe part of the issue that we got off to a slow start. But, it's a nine-inning ballgame and we hung in there. Really pleased with how we were able to handle the crowd. Obviously, we weren't very sharp in the first three, but we overcame it and came from behind on the road against a good Florida State team. The guys should feel good about themselves going into the weekend."
Following the midweek matchup with FSU, the Gators trek to Oxford for a three-game series at No. 13 Ole Miss from Friday, March 24 to Sunday, March 26. All three games will stream on SEC Network+.