Florida baseball: 3 takeaways from UF's 13-11 loss to Georgia

Kevin Brockway
The Gainesville Sun
Georgia's Leighton Finley (12) celebrates the Bulldogs 13-11 win over Florida, Friday, April 14, 2023, at Condron Family Baseball Park in Gainesville, Florida. [Cyndi Chambers/ Gainesville Sun] 2023

Second-ranked Florida let a conference baseball game slip away, as the Gators lost 13-11 to rival Georgia on Friday night before 6,994 at Condron Family Ballpark.

The Gators (28-7, 9-4 SEC) failed to hold a six-run lead over the final two innings. Up 10-4 in the eighth, Florida gave up two runs in the 8th and seven more in the 9th to fall behind 13-10.

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Florida tried to rally in the bottom of the 9th, loading the bases and cutting the lead to 13-11 on a sacrifice fly by shortstop Josh Rivera. But with two outs and the bases loaded, designated hitter Luke Heyman, who hit a grand slam earlier in the game, struck out to end it.

"It's disappointing but the bottom line is, we cannot let this bleed into (Saturday)," Florida coach Kevin O'Sullivan said. "We got beat pretty good by Auburn on Friday night and came back and won the series. It's just that simple."

Here are three takeaways from the game:

Bullpen, defense doom Gators late

After starter Brandon Sproat gave Florida seven solid innings, Florida's bullpen was handed a 10-4 lead. Phillip Abner surrendered a two-run homer to first baseman Charlie Condon in the 7th inning to cut the lead to 10-6.

Florida turned to closer Brandon Neely, who loaded the bases on three straight singles, including an infield hit. Neely then struck out Ben Anderson, but Brandon Tate tied the score at 10 with a grand slam.

O'Sullivan struck with Neely and intentionally walked Condon, but Georgia wasn't done hitting. Corey Collins laced a shot to first that Jac Caglianone made a nice stab on, but in trying to throw to second to start a double play, threw the ball into center field for an error. Third baseman Parks Harber then followed with a ground-rule double, scoring Condon to put Georgia ahead to stay 11-10.

Tyler Nesbitt replaced Neely but Georgia tacked on two more runs on a Cole Wagner RBI single and Fernando Gonzalez sac fly to go up 13-10.

Neely (0-1) took the loss, allowing 7 runs (5 earned) on 6 hits in 0.1 innings.

"He ran some deep counts," O'Sullivan said. "Obviously, a leadoff single, the swinging bunt by the catcher. Obviously, trying not to get back to Tate and Condon. That's kind of what happened. The error there in the ninth didn't help either. It was really a combination of things."

Two grand slams power Florida offense

Florida belted a pair of grand slams to power its offense. The first one, from freshman second baseman Cade Kurland, put Florida up 5-3 in the third inning. The second, by Heyman, extended UF's lead to 10-4 in the sixth.

The Gators connected for multiple grand slams in a game for the first time since March 3, 2019 against Winthrop. In that game three Gators -- Kendrick Calilao, Jacob Young and Santino Miozzi – all hit grand slams.

Charlie Condon kept UGA in the game by tying a school record

Condon, who entered the game batting .445 with 13 homers and 45 RBIs, tied a school record with three home runs in a game on his 20th birthday.

He began the onslaught with a two-run homer off Sproat in the third inning to give Georgia an early 3-0 lead. Then, leading off the sixth inning, Condon laced a first-pitch fastball from Sproat over the wall in right center, cutting Florida's lead to 5-4.

In the eighth inning, Condon again jumped on a first pitch, lacing a delivery from Florida reliever Phillip Abner over the wall in left center for a two-run homer to cut Florida's lead to 10-6.

It was Condon's third multiple-homer game of the season and first against an SEC opponent. His previous two-homer games came against Georgia Tech and Georgia Southern.

"He just had one of those nights," O'Sullivan said. "I took the visit in the third, talked to Brandon, about pitching around him, obviously the score of the game was a lot different at that point and we just didn't execute."