Rolling into SEC final: Florida Gators claim a 9-0 victory over Texas A&M and some payback

Gator Sports

Florida baseball enacted revenge on Texas A&M in the semifinal round of the SEC Baseball Tournament, downing the Aggies 9-0 Saturday in UF’s second contest of the day.

UF (39-21) advances to the SEC Tournament final against No. 1-seed Tennessee, with first pitch set for Sunday at 3 p.m. in Hoover, Ala. 

The No. 7-seeded Gators returned to Hoover Met Stadium less than four hours removed from a 11-6 victory over Alabama, and just two days from suffering a 10-0 loss by run-rule to TAMU (37-18) in Thursday’s second-round matchup. 

Following a scoreless first inning, Florida plated runs in six consecutive innings. Jud Fabian’s 22nd home run of the season put UF up, 1-0, in the second inning, and a sacrifice fly by BT Riopelle in the third inning scored Wyatt Langford and put the Gators in front 2-0. 

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Fabian walked to lead off the fourth, and Jac Caglianone proceeded to reach first on a fielding error by the Aggies. After Josh Rivera advanced Fabian and Caglianone to third and second, respectively, Mac Guscette hit a two-RBI single down the left-field line to double Florida’s total.

An RBI groundout by Ty Evans in the fifth inning scored Sterlin Thompson, and Wyatt Langford’s single to right field in the sixth inning extended UF’s lead to 7-0. 

Caglianone hit a sacrifice fly in the seventh inning to score Riopelle, marking UF’s eighth run of the night, and Caglianone again scored Riopelle in the ninth inning to put the Aggies in a nine-run hole. 

"Offensively we were really good all day, and I think some of the things kind of go unnoticed," UF coach Kevin O'Sullivan said. "I'm really proud of the way we competed, and now we have an opportunity to play one more game."

Here are takeaways from the semifinal game. 

Timmy Manning keeps Aggies scoreless in return

Timmy Manning (44) pitches against Texas A&M in the SEC Tournament at the Hoover Met in Hoover, Ala., Saturday.

Timmy Manning made eight appearances in his freshman year, but it had been nearly two months since Manning had taken the mound for the Gators in a meaningful contest. And it wasn’t necessarily an impressive performance, considering Manning allowed three runs on as many hits while committing a fielding error in just one inning of action in UF’s 13-3 win over Florida A&M. 

But the Gators called on Manning to make the start against the Aggies, and the Pompano Beach native answered the call. 

Manning kept the Aggies scoreless during his 5.0 innings of action. He struck out six batters and allowed just five hits in his 90-pitch outing. 

Manning exited to a standing ovation from his teammates after allowing a single to start the bottom of the sixth inning. 

"Well, I think the story of the game obviously today was pitching," O'Sullivan said. "Timmy gave us a great start, five scoreless, and then Fisher came in and threw four scoreless to help us save a few arms for tomorrow."

Mac Guscette stays hot at the plate

Florida catcher Mac Guscette (9) fields a bunt and throws to first to retire a Texas A&M batter in the SEC Tournament at the Hoover Met in Hoover, Ala., Saturday.

Mac Guscette hadn’t registered a hit in 25 days prior to Florida’s 11-6 win over Alabama in the fourth round, and Guscette didn’t cool down during the lull between games. 

Guscette went 1-of-2 at the plate with 2 RBI, with the Aggies opting to walk Guscette in his other two plate appearances. 

"We asked Mac Guscette to catch 18 innings today and he just did an incredible job with the pitching staff," O'Sullivan said. "Had the big three-run homer in the first game in the ninth and had a key line drive to drive in two. I mean, it was a long day at the field, but it was a lot of fun."

Gators to face Tennessee 

With the victory over the Aggies, the Gators awaited word Saturday night on their opponent. It will be the Tennessee Vols — the nation’s top team and the last opponent to sweep UF in a weekend series. 

The Vols are a staggering 51-7 and have suffered just five losses in conference play — two of which came at the hands of the Wildcats. The Gators, meanwhile, are getting hot at the right time. Since getting swept by the Vols, the Gators have won 16 of their previous 20 contests. 

"Like I said, I was hoping we would figure it out a little bit sooner, but sometimes in this game it doesn't happen at the exact time you want to, in that time frame. But we're starting to play really good, and I said this in the postgame ... our defense has been really good," O'Sullivan said.