Florida Gators sophomore two-way player Jac Caglianone stepped to the plate in the bottom of the seventh. After struggling on the mound and at the plate Sunday versus Auburn, he had a chance to take the lead. The game was tied 8-8 with the series on the line as both teams traded wins and runs all weekend.
He turned on a 1-1 pitch and ignited the offensive onslaught needed for a Gators win.
Florida (24-5, 7-2 SEC) defeated Auburn (18-9-1, 3-6 SEC) 17-8 to take the weekend series 2-1. UF notched double-digit hits once again in the back-and-forth victory.
Caglianone started his Sunday on the mound with a jam. A throwing error by freshman infielder Cade Kurland allowed Auburn’s Bobby Peirce to reach second base. Then, Caglianone threw a wild pitch and hit a batter to put runners on the corners. The runner at first stole second to put two Tigers runners in scoring position.
Despite the dangerous position in the opening frame, Caglianone escaped with the help of two strikeouts and handed it over to the Gators’ bats.
Auburn’s Tommy Vail found trouble of his own on the mound. He walked Wyatt Langford and gave up a single to Josh Rivera. Vail then walked senior catcher BT Riopelle to load the bases with two outs.
Freshman catcher Luke Heyman stepped to the plate and delivered.
Heyman singled to left field, plating two runners. An error by Peirce allowed Heyman to reach second and scored another runner. After one inning, the Gators led 3-0.
The Tigers immediately began digging away at Florida’s lead. Cooper McMurray led off the second inning for Auburn with a deep solo shot into the Dizney Grove. Caglianone walked two batters with two down but was able to turn three outs to close the frame, including a gem from redshirt freshman Michael Robertson in center field.
Florida went scoreless in the bottom frame to keep a 2-run cushion after two innings.
Caglianone’s slow starts and strong finishes continued in the top of the third. He let up a single and a walk to put two runners on with two outs. He was able to close the frame with his third strikeout in as many innings.
The Gators endured their second consecutive scoreless frame to maintain a 3-1 lead through the opening third.
In the fourth inning, Caglianone’s early shortcomings began to catch up. He let up a lead off single, followed by a 2-run shot to tie the ballgame up 3-3. After letting up another single and a double, Florida head coach Kevin O’Sullivan opted to pull his starter early in favor of reliever Blake Purnell.
The sophomore right-hander hit a batter to load the bases, then let a wild pitch loose to score Auburn’s tie-breaking run. BT Riopelle made a spectacular play at home to prevent another run, and freshman closer Cade Fisher took the mound in search of the final out.
After walking the bases loaded, Fisher was able to force the final out at first to close the frame with the Gators down 4-3. The Gators picked up their third-straight scoreless frame offensively in the bottom of the fourth.
Things continued to unravel for Florida in the fifth. Fisher gave up a walk and a pair of singles to plate another run, expanding the Auburn lead to 5-3. Then, Auburn’s Bryson Ware sent a moonshot to right field to score three more.
Florida began a comeback effort of its own in the bottom fifth. Junior infielder Colby Halter stepped to the plate with loaded bases and notched a 2-RBI single to bring the Gators’ deficit to 8-5. Matt Prevesk entered to pinch hit and was walked to load the bases again.
Auburn reliever Chase Allsup threw four-straight balls to walk a run in with loaded bases. He was pulled for fellow reliever Chase Isbell.
After five innings, the Gators trailed 8-6.
Sophomore right-handed reliever Ryan Slater took the mound for Florida in the sixth. He produced a 1-2-3 inning with a strikeout to notch a scoreless frame.
In the bottom of the sixth, Langford opened things up with a leadoff double. A pair of walks loaded the bases for Heyman. He was walked to score a run, and Halter clutched up again to plate another runner on a deep sacrifice fly. At the end of the sixth, the ballgame was tied at eight runs a piece.
Slater posted another 1-2-3 inning through the seventh to give the Gators another shot on offense with an even score.
Robertson walked to lead off the bottom seventh. Langford followed him with a double off the wall, putting two runners in scoring position as Caglianone stepped to the plate with two outs.
He plated two runners to take a 10-8 lead. Rivera and Heyman singled to plate another and make it a 11-8 Gators.
Halter topped it off with an RBI double to make it 12-8 Florida after seven innings.
Slater added two more Ks in the eighth as he retired three-straight Auburn batters to close the frame.
In the bottom of the eighth, Florida added to its lead, now 13-8, with a solo-shot homer from Langford. His five runs scored Sunday set a new career high.
A Heyman grand slam put the cherry on top and left the Gators with a 17-8 victory.
Next up, Florida hosts Bethune-Cookman for a one-off matchup Tuesday. The Wildcats are 16-12 and 7-2 in the MEAC. They defeated the Florida A&M rattlers 2-1 in this weekend’s series, including a 6-3 win today. The game is set to begin at 6 p.m. and will stream on SEC Network+.