Florida baseball: 3 takeaways from No. 6 UF's 10-4 win Friday night against No. 22 Miami

Kevin Brockway
The Gainesville Sun

The bats remained hot for Florida baseball in its series opener with state rival Miami on Friday night.

The No. 6 Gators pounded out 10 runs on 14 hits, rallying back from an early 3-run hole to beat No. 22 Miami 10-4 at Condron Family Ballpark.

A crowd of 8,081, the second largest in the history of the three-year-old stadium. watched the Gators (9-2) score 10 or more runs for the seventh time in 11 games this season.

Miami (7-3) jumped to an early lead when third baseman Yohandy Morales belted a 453-foot, three-run homer to left field off Florida starter Brandon Sproat in the top of the first inning. But the Gators answered in the bottom of the first with a solo homer from left fielder Wyatt Langford, cutting the Miami lead to 3-1.

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The Gators tied the score 3-3 on back-to-back two-out RBI singles by catcher B.T. Riopelle and right fielder Ty Evans in the bottom of the third. Florida went ahead for good in the bottom of the fourth, going up 4-3 on an RBI double by Langford and 5-3 on an RBI single by Jac Caglianone.

"Our team, when they came off the field in the bottom of the first, they had a lot of energy," Florida coach Kevin O'Sullivan said. "They never lost focus."

The teams meet again Saturday at 2 p.m., and Sunday at noon. Meanwhile, here are three takeaways from the Florida win:

Florida starter Brandon Sproat settles in after a shaky first inning

Sproat (3-0) overcame a shaky first inning by allowing one unearned run over the next five innings to earn his third win of the season.

"His level of maturity is so much different than a year ago," O'Sullivan said.

Overall, Sproat allowed 4 runs (3 earned) over six innings, giving up 4 hits with 4 walks and nine strikeouts. Of Sproat's 100 pitches, 60 were for strikes.

Sproat said he adjusted his approach against Miami's hitters, mixing in more change-ups to get swing and miss strikes.

"The change-up is my best secondary (pitch)," Sproat said. "I have a lot of confidence from just using it a lot in the fall and the spring, throwing it when I need it. Wherever it goes, it goes."

O'Sullivan let Sproat work through the sixth inning, when he allowed the first two runners to reach base on a walk and an error. Miami shortstop Dominic Pitelli lofted a sacrifice fly to cut Florida's lead to 5-4. But with two outs and the tying run on third, Sproat struck out leadoff batter Edgardo Villegas on a change-up to get out of the jam.

"I trust him," O'Sullivan said. "I have tremendous faith that he's going to be able to make big pitches when he needs to."

The Gators belt four more homers on Friday night

Florida's utility Wyatt Langford (36) celebrates his home run in the bottom of the first inning against the Miami Hurricanes, Friday, March 3, 2023, at Condron Family Baseball Park in Gainesville, Florida. The Gators beat the Hurricanes 10-4 in Game 1. [Cyndi Chambers/ Gainesville Sun] 2023

Florida continued its early-season power surge with four more homers. Langford got it started with a solo homer in the first and added an opposite field homer in the sixth to put the Gators up 8-5 for his first multi-homer game of the season.

O'Sullivan said Langford's first-inning homer provided a big lift.

"That was huge," O'Sullivan said. "If we go down 1-2-3 in the first and then they go back and score another run or two as the game goes on, it ends up being a different ballgame."

Another key home run came in the bottom of the sixth, when pinch-hitter and Rutgers transfer Richie Schiekofer belted a two-run homer off reliever Carlos Lequerica, putting the Gators up 7-4.

"That was the turning point in the game," O'Sullivan said.

Freshman Cade Fisher closes the door with a 3-inning save

Freshman lefty Cady Fisher pitched three scoreless innings, retiring nine straight batters for his first career save.

Fisher struck out one, got five groundouts and made a nifty catch on a line drive back to the mound in an efficient, 30-pitch outing.

"It doesn't get that much better than that, 30 pitches over 3 (innings)," O'Sullivan said. "So, he got the pitch count down, could still be available to go tomorrow ... he throws a ton of strikes in the bottom of the zone."