Photo by Brian Fox | ChompTalk

After losing their first weekend series to Liberty, Florida baseball has been on a tear. On Sunday, the Gators extended their winning streak to five games and secured their first series sweep of the 2022 season.

Florida (6-2) defeated Georgia State (4-4) 12-1 in an impressive performance after dominating the series all weekend. The Gators recorded 17 hits to Georgia State’s 10 after a seven-run fifth inning blew the contest open.

Florida came out to a slow start. The Gators didn’t record their first run until the fourth inning on an RBI single from junior 1B Kendrick Calilao

Georgia State had slightly better production out of the gate, recording four hits in just as many innings and an RBI from a bases-loaded HBP from starting pitcher Timmy Manning in the second. Despite GSU’s early spark, Florida’s ramp up of production in a three-hit fourth inning brought the score to one run a piece entering the fifth.

Gators head coach Kevin O’Sullivan decided to make a pitching change after Georgia State recorded two more hits to open up the fifth inning. Manning was replaced by sophomore Nick Ficarrotta after 86 pitches, six hits and one earned run allowed. Ficarrotta retired the side in just four pitches thanks to a double play.

In the fifth inning, the Gators’ bats began to warm up. Jud Fabian hit a home run to center field to record two more runs and earn Florida’s first lead of the game. Fabian’s homer was followed by two more hits, and Georgia State moved onto its third and fourth pitchers of the contest.

“Were all very good players and very confident in ourselves,” BT Riopelle said. “It took a few games to get where we want to be. It felt very good to succeed this weekend.”

The avalanche only kept falling as Florida recorded three more runs off of a sacrifice fly from freshman Matt Prevesk and a pair of RBI singles from Calilao and Deric Fabian. A two RBI double from Colby Halter blew the score wide open, 8-1, in what seemed to be a never-ending fifth inning for Georgia State’s defense, which had subbed in its fifth pitcher of the game and fourth of the inning. The 37 minute bottom of the fifth ended with seven hits and runs.

Florida’s younger players then got a chance to display their talents as O’Sullivan began bringing in pinch hitters for his lineup for the eighth. Freshmen Rene Lastres recorded a hit followed by a three-run homer from fellow first-year Ty Evans.

“It’s awesome,” Riopelle said. “It’s good to see a bunch of young guys put together some at bats to progress themselves forward and benefit the team.”

Joined by a Halter RBI home run in the seventh, the Gators were up 12-1 entering the final inning of play. Georgia State couldn’t pick up the slack in their final frame and the game was settled as Florida moved to a 6-2 record with their first season sweep.

Key Performances:

Coby Halter: 6 AB, 2 R, 4 H, 2 RBI

Jud Fabian: 4 AB, 1 R, 1 H, 2 RBI

Calilao: 4 AB, 1 R, 2 H, 2 RBI

Riopelle 4 AB, 1 R, 3 H

Evans: 1 AB, 1 R, 1 H, 3 RBI

Pitching Decision:

Win: Ficarrotta – UF, 2-0 (1 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB)

Loss: Acosta – GSU, 0-1 (0 IP, 4 H, 4 ER, 0 BB)

On Deck:

The Gators travel to Jacksonville to take on North Florida in a single-game series. The Ospreys are 1-6 and have lost three straight including a 1-3 defeat to UF on Feb. 23. UNF will wrap up a series with UConn before facing off against the Gators. The game takes place on Tuesday, Mar. 1 at 6:05 p.m.

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