Photo by Brian Fox | ChompTalk

After a heated Friday and Saturday, the Florida Gators had an opportunity to make a statement Sunday in a rubber match against the Miami Hurricanes. The two teams entered Sunday with a split series and shared emphatic wins with a combined margin of victory of 14 runs.

The two teams chirped back and forth all weekend including bat flips and celebrations from both dugouts, with only one team able to come out on top Sunday.

No. 6 Florida (10-3) emerged victorious against No. 22 Miami (8-4), 14-4, to take the series and the rivalry bragging rights for 2023. The Gators dominated thanks to 13 RBIs as a team and 11 strikeouts from the pitching staff. The run-rule win was capped off by a Ty Evans home run to walk it off.

“I tell the new players, this is the intensity. This is it,” Florida head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “This weekend was important for both teams.”

Caglianone had issues finding the zone in his initial frame. He threw three consecutive balls before a 4-3 groundout gave him a reset. From there he punched out the next two batters, including top MLB propsect Yohandy Morales to secure a 1-2-3 opening inning.

The drama from the weekend continued in the bottom of the first. Junior outfielder Wyatt Langford was hit by a pitch near the head. Sophomore two-way player Jac Caglianone followed it up with a missile that nearly went out but landed safely in the hands of Miami’s Dario Gomez at the warning track.

Junior infielder Josh Rivera came up next and walked to put a runner in scoring position. Senior catcher BT Riopelle came to the plate and scored the opening run with a single. Evans doubled up with an RBI single of his own. Redshirt freshman outfielder Michael Robertson and Sophomore infielder Deric Fabian hit two more to make it four-straight RBIs.

After one inning, Florida led 4-0.

In the second inning, Caglianone continued his clean work and reaching six consecutive outs with four strikeouts. The Gators entered the bottom frame with the top of their order already back up.

Florida quickly put Miami in danger again with a one-out double from Langford and a walk for Caglianone. Rivera walked as well to load the bases. ‘Canes head coach Gino DiMare opted to pull his starter early after the bags were juiced.

Riopelle stepped to the plate. He worked a 3-1 count and then sent a high fastball sailing over the right-center field wall. After having issues with Miami’s celebrations all weekend, he had plenty to say as he trotted around the bases.

“I try to soak it in as much as I can,” Riopelle said. “Especially games like this.”

Miami snagged two strikeouts to close the inning, but the damage had been done. The Gators led 8-0 after just two innings.

After walking the leadoff man in the third, Caglianone sat three more straight to close inning and notched his fifth strikeout.

The Gators continued to pile on runs in the third. After junior infielder Colby Halter walked with one out, freshman leadoff batter Cade Kurland hit an RBI single to make it 9-0 in favor of Florida. It marked his eleventh-straight game with a hit.

Caglianone allowed his first hits in the top of the fourth on two-straight singles with no outs. A fly out put runners on the corners with just one down. A sacrifice fly sent the runner home to put Miami on the scoreboard. It seemed like the Gators secured the final fly out to close the frame, but the umpires indicated the batter called time before the pitch.

Despite the hiccup, Caglianone punched out the final batter close the inning and made some noise on the way to the dugout.

The Gators went 1-2-3 in the bottom of the fourth to close the inning. Both teams traded scoreless frames in the fifth and sixth.

Sophomore right-hander Brandon Neely entered in relief of Caglianone in the seventh. Caglianone finished with four hits, one walk, one earned run and eight strikeouts in six innings pitched.

“Probably the most excited I’ve been to pitch a while,” Caglianone said. “Last year, I was watching back at home in Tampa doing homework with my parents.”

Neely snagged two strikeouts to close the seventh frame but began to struggle in the eighth. He let up three runs to make it 9-4 and was pulled for freshman Cade Fisher.

Blake Cyr, who’s homered twice for Miami this weekend, hit a dangerous line drive through center. Before it could cause any damage, Josh Rivera leaped to pull the ball in and turn a double play to slam the door on the ‘Canes.

Langford and Rivera homered in the bottom of the eighth to make it an 12-4 game, and Ty Evans got to walk it off for the win, 14-4.

Next up, Florida takes on Florida Atlantic at home in a midweek doubleheader. The Owls are a formidable opponent with a 7-4 record. Since. Feb 21, FAU has won a weekend series against South Florida and one-offs against No. 22 Miami and Central Florida. The Owls were swept in their series this weekend against Connecticut.

Tuesday’s game is set for 7 p.m. and will stream on SEC Network+.

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