No. 3 Gators earn road sweep over No. 13 Ole Miss
Oxford, Miss. - No. 3 Florida blasted four home runs to post a 7-4 win and finish off a road series sweep of No. 13 Ole Miss at Swyaze Field for the first time since 1988 on Sunday evening.
Luke Heyman (2-for-3) was at the heart of the scoring for Florida (22-4, 5-1 SEC), as the freshman catcher launched two solo home runs in the victory for his first-career multi-homer game. Fellow freshman Cade Kurland (3-for-5) came up in the clutch, ripping a pair of two-out RBI singles and finishing with four RBI thanks to an eighth-inning big fly.
Starting pitcher Jac Caglianone gave himself a boost in the top of the first, homering on an 0-1 count to right field to open a one-run lead for the Gators. Caglianone proceeded to blank the Rebels (15-9, 0-6 SEC) across his first two innings on the hill to preserve the score.
Ole Miss threatened in the second with a pair of baserunners, by right fielder Ty Evans made a sensational catch in the right-center field gap to save two runs and silence a potential rally. The Rebels loaded the bases in the following frame, but a three-pitch strikeout by Caglianone navigated the Gators away from damage.
Back in the starting lineup for the first time since March 10, Heyman extended the UF lead in the fourth with a solo shot down the left-field line - his second of the campaign. Michael Robertson then swatted a two-out double and came in to score on an RBI single by Kurland to push the lead to 3-0.
The Rebels came alive in the fourth, putting two runners on for Jacob Gonzalez via a pair of walks. Gonzalez took advantage, hitting a two-run double to left field to cut the Florida lead to one.
Florida turned to reliever Blake Purnell to calm things down in the fourth, with the righty inducing a flyout to Kemp Alderman to end the inning. Freshman Chris Arroyo took over in the fifth and worked a clean frame with two strikeouts to send the matchup into the sixth.
The Orange & Blue put together a two-out rally in the bottom half, beginning with a pair of singles by Evans and Robertson. With runners at the corners, Kurland drove in Robertson with a single to left field - his second run-scoring knock of the day.
Arroyo retired the side in order in the sixth to make it six-straight outs upon his entry. The left-hander struck out four in the process before Philip Abner took over in the seventh and worked a one-two-three inning.
Leading off the eighth, Heyman connected on an 0-1 offering to straightaway left field for his second home run of the ballgame. Later in the inning, Kurland homered off the batter's eye in center to extend Florida's advantage to 7-2.
Ole Miss plated two runs in the eighth, doing so on a wild pitch while Peyton Chatagnier scored on a six-three double play. Closer Brandon Neely entered to limit the damage, forcing the aforementioned double play and a flyout to bring an end to the inning.
Neely worked a scoreless ninth inning to solidify the sweep, improving to 5-for-5 in save chances. Florida's closer finished with two shutout innings of relief on one hit and one strikeout.
Arroyo (1-0) earned his first-career victory after throwing two perfect innings with four strikeouts. Xavier Rivas (4-2) received his second loss, allowing four runs (two earned) in 5 2/3 innings. The southpaw surrendered five hits and two walks while striking out four.
Caglianone did not factor into the decision. The right-hander gave up two earned runs on one hit and eight walks across 3 2/3 frames while striking out three.
- Florida swept Ole Miss in Oxford for the first time since 1988. The Gators swept the Rebels for the first time since 2015 in Gainesville.
- Caglianone hit his nation-leading 17th home run of the season in the first inning. In games he begins as the starting pitcher, Caglianone is 8-for-21 (.381) with six home runs, 10 RBI and nine runs scored. He now has more home runs (17) than singles (16) this season. The first-inning homer marked Caglianone's fourth in the last two days.
- Kurland tied his career high with four RBI while hitting his eighth home run of the season.
- Heyman notched his first-career multi-homer game, hitting solo shots in the fourth and the seventh.
- Josh Rivera's team-leading 25-game on-base streak was snapped (28 including the 2022 season). Robertson extended his on-base streak to 23 games.
- Florida has struck out double-digit batters in 19 of 26 games.
- Florida has struck out 286 batters in 214 innings - translating to 12.0 per nine innings.
- Through 26 games, Florida has a run differential of plus-133. The Gators have scored in 109 of 204 batted innings this season (53.4%).
- The Gators have 288 hits through 26 games (11.1 hits/game).
- Florida improves to 57-53 all-time vs. Ole Miss including 22-33 in Oxford. The Gators are 20-14 in the series under Head Coach Kevin O'Sullivan, featuring an 11-7 mark on the road.
FROM HEAD COACH KEVIN O'SULLIVAN
On this weekend's pitching... "It started off a little different. Obviously, Jac didn't have his best stuff today. Some of that may be attributed to yesterday, playing 18 innings. I thought his slot might have been a little bit lower than normal today. He missed a lot of high-arm sides, so we got some work to do. Quite honestly, the three starts we got this weekend were not great, but the bullpen was really good. Blake came in in a crucial spot there, got the out with Alderman. Chris Arroyo hadn't pitched in quite some time and came in and threw strikes. He did a really nice job to hold it together. Philip threw the ball really well. I think they had some pretty good at bats against him. Neely was just outstanding again."
On the offense and Heyman behind the plate... "Offensively, we swung the bats well all weekend long. I think we hit four home runs and three of the four were with freshmen. The other thing too, is I thought Luke Heyman caught really, really well today. Really well. He hadn't caught in a while, he's had a hammy, but I thought he was outstanding behind the plate."
On managing the bullpen... "I think it's really a matter of just trying to pick spots that you think they might be successful. They had the righty-lefty splits today in their lineup. I know it was only one out that Blake got, but it was an important out... I honestly think it's just a matter of figuring out what guys can come in in the middle of an inning and handle it and what guys need to start an inning... Just trying to find the right spots to put guys in and hopefully give them the best opportunity to be successful."
Florida plays Florida State at 121 Financial Ballpark in Jacksonville on Tuesday with coverage on ACC Network at 7 p.m.