Riopelle extends epic tourney run in UF win vs. Vandy
HOOVER, Alabama -- For the second consecutive night, BT Riopelle was everything Florida needed him to be, and more.
The 1-seed Gators defeated the 4-seed Commodores in an all-around solid game with a 6-3 victory during the SEC Tournament on Thursday at the Hoover Met.
Florida became the only program to reach the SEC Tournament semifinals in each of the last three seasons.
Despite the end score, the Commodores recorded 10 hits and still put up a fight.
Enrique Bradfield Jr.'s speed has been the key component in Vanderbilt's tournament run thus far. The center fielder started the Dores' night off with a triple to left field and was drove in to home with the ensuing at-bat -- following up his performance the prior night with two scores.
That lead didn't last long though as Luke Heyman sent a 421-foot bomb to center field and knotted the game up at one. With the homer, Heyman became the sixth Florida player to reach 10 on the year, which is a program record.
Florida continued its run of solo homers with a dinger Riopelle. The catcher sent a 435-foot bomb to right field with an exit velocity of 107 MPH off the bat in David Horn's first inning on the mound.
Vandy continued to fight back and scored on a single from Davis Diaz -- he drove in four of the Commodores' eight runs in the tournament at that point.
Brandon Sproat was on fire for the Gators and kept a low-scoring game through six innings with only two runs allowed and six strikeouts. He was replaced by Cade Fisher in the top of the seventh.
The Gators' pitching staff let up nine hits through those innings, but they set the moment up perfectly for Riopelle to build on his immaculate SEC run.
With two outs and the bases loaded -- Riopelle drilled the 424-foot grand slam that created the separation needed in the game.
The last two multi-homer games in the SEC Tournament have been by Florida hitters, with Wyatt Langford accomplishing it last year. It also marked the ninth grand slam for the Gators this season -- the most in the SEC.
Vandy attempted to claw back as Jonathan Vastine hit his fourth homer of the year and brought the game within three runs.
But it wasn't enough to upend Riopelle's heroics and the resilient defense that Florida rolled out.
HOW IT HAPPENED
T1 | Bradfield tripled to left field. Diaz grounded out and Bradfield Jr. scored. Vanderbilt 1, Florida 0.
B2 | Heyman homered to center field. Vanderbilt 1, Florida 1.
B4 | Riopelle homered to right field. Florida 2, Vanderbilt 1.
T5 | Vastine singled up the middle. Diaz singled through the left side, RBI (2-2 BBKK); Vastine scored. Florida 2, Vanderbilt 2.
B7 | Kurland was walked. Caglianone was hit by pitch, Kurland advanced to second. Rivera was walked, Caglianone advanced to second and Kurland advanced to third. Riopelle homered to left center to score Kurland, Caglianone and Rivera. Florida 6, Vanderbilt 2.
T8 | Vastine hits a solo homer. Florida 6, Vanderbilt 3.
Florida (43-13) will move on to the semifinals to face the winner of Game 14. First pitch is scheduled to start at 30 minutes after the 1 p.m. ET game in a contest that will be televised on SEC Network.
Vanderbilt (38-17) will face 9-seed Alabama in the fourth round. First pitch is scheduled to start 30 minutes after the 4 p.m. ET Texas A&M-LSU game in a contest that will be televised on SEC Network.