Florida baseball: 3 things learned from taking 2 of 3 against Tennessee

Kevin Brockway
The Gainesville Sun
Florida's Jac Caglianone, shown during Saturday's game against Tennessee, hit a home run on Friday night that traveled an estimated 491 feet.

Third-ranked Florida took two of three baseball games against No. 11 Tennessee over the weekend at Lindsay Nelson Stadium in Knoxville, Tenn.

The Gators (27-6, 9-3 SEC) are tied for third with Kentucky in a competitive SEC East, two games back of division leader Vanderbilt.

Here are three things learned from the series:

The Gators are still mashing

Florida scored 15 runs in the first two games of the three-game series, winning 6-1 and 9-3. Second baseman Cade Kurland, shortstop Josh Rivera and catcher B.T. Riopelle homered in UF's 6-1 win over the Vols on Thursday night. On Friday, Rivera launched his second homer of the series, one of four home runs in the game. Wyatt Langford and Jack Caglianone belted back-to-back home runs in the fourth, with Caglianone's blast traveling an estimated 491 feet. Designated hitter Matt Prevesk also had a big day at the plate, going 2-for-4 with a double, homer and 4 RBIs.

"We have an offense that believes in themselves," Florida coach Kevin O'Sullivan said. "They're doing a really nice job."

Brandon Sproat rebounds, Huston Waldrep settling in

Brandon Sproat (5-1) bounced back from a poor outing against Auburn the week before, allowing 1 earned run in 5.2 innings to pick up the win Thursday night.

Hurston Waldrep (6-1) had one of his best outings as a Gator, as the Southern Mississippi transfer tossed 7 solid innings against a tough Tennessee lineup to win on Friday night. In an efficient 102-pitch outing, Waldrep effectively maintained UF's lead, allowing 3 runs on 5 hits with 2 walks and 9 strikeouts.

"Hurston was incredibly good," O'Sullivan said after Friday's game. "This is what we've been waiting for with Sproat and Hurston to put together a couple of back-to-back really good starts. I think the common theme between the both of them is tempo. They pushed the tempo and set the tone. We've been waiting for this weekend to get these two guys going and certainly, they delivered." 

Florida's bullpen improving

Florida's bullpen effectively protected the lead in both wins. Phillip Abner struck out six in 2.1 innings of scoreless relief, setting up Brandon Neely, who loaded the bases in the bottom of the ninth but struck out three to preserve the 6-1 win.

On Friday night, freshman lefty Cade Fisher pitched two scoreless innings, allowing one hit with 5 strikeouts.

Up Next

The Gators will host in-state rival Florida State on Tuesday at 6 p.m. at Condron Family Ballpark. First pitch is 6 p.m. and the game will air on WRUF and SEC Network Plus.

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