Photo by Brian Fox | ChompTalk

The game of baseball, in its vast complexity, can create a simple 50/50 outcome out of endless scenarios. No two wins are the same. Despite the Florida Gators run-ruling the Charleston Southern Buccaneers both Friday and Saturday, the two games could not have been more dissimilar. Friday’s win featured a dominant performance top-to-bottom for UF. Saturday’s series-clinching victory played more like a front row seat to Charleston Southern’s self demise.

Florida (2-0) defeated Charleston Southern (0-2) 16-2 Saturday to earn its first series victory of 2023. While the Florida offense benefitted from five Buccaneers errors, Southern Miss transfer Hurston Waldrep handled business on the mound with four hits, two earned runs and six strikeouts through five innings.

“Felt pretty confident,” Waldrep said. “Didn’t have my best stuff but I felt like what I did have I was able to work with and compete with.”

The two teams both crawled out of the gate, trading hitless opening frames. Charleston Southern got on the board first after a few infield hits led to an RBI single.

After struggling with the pitch clock on Friday, similar issues continued to plague the Buccaneers. Left-handed pitcher Ryan Gleason attempted to pick off junior infielder Josh Rivera at first base to avoid a timing error, but CSU first baseman Ashton Wilson couldn’t bring it in and allowed Rivera to advance to third base.

Senior catcher BT Riopelle followed the error up with an RBI single to tie the game at one run a piece.

Things continued to fall apart in the third inning for Charleston Southern. First, freshman infielder Cade Kurland was walked. Then, redshirt freshman outfielder Michael Robertson outran the tag for a single. An error followed by a wild pitch scored both players, and then sophomore two-way player Jac Caglianone wrapped things up with an RBI single to make it a 4-1 Gators lead.

After Caglianone was hit by a pitch with loaded bases to put the Gators up 5-1 in the fourth, Bucs head coach Marc MacMillan opted to pull Gleason for senior right-hander Eddie Olsen.

Things went from bad to worse for Charleston Southern. A fielder’s choice-E6 combo allowed for two runners to score with ease. Sophomore outfielder Ty Evans followed with a two-RBI single. Junior infielder Tyler Shelnut put a bow on the sequence with a two-run homer to left field. By the time the Buccaneers could end the fourth inning disaster, the Gators led 11-1.

“We strung together some good at-bats,” Florida head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “I thought our guys did a real nice job.”

Charleston Southern added another run in the top of the fifth, but Florida answered and then some in the bottom of the inning, piling on four more runs of its own. UF maintained its lead through the sixth to enact the run rule and end the contest early.

The Gators and Buccaneers play once more tomorrow for the series finale. With a win, Florida can secure its first series sweep and begin the 2023 campaign a perfect 3-0. First pitch is set for 1 p.m. and the game will stream on SEC Network+.

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