Florida baseball: 3 things learned from series win over Georgia

Kevin Brockway
The Gainesville Sun

Florida baseball bounced back from a disappointing 13-11 loss to Georgia on Friday to take two of three games from the Bulldogs over the weekend at Condron Family Ballpark.

The Gators (30-7, 11-4 SEC) won 2-1 on Saturday on a walk-off, RBI single by center fielder Michael Robertson in the bottom of the ninth. On Sunday, Florida won 11-6, powered by three home runs, two coming from pitcher/first baseman Jac Caglianone.

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"We responded really well," Florida coach Kevin O'Sullivan said. "Different type of ballgame (Saturday) obviously, and a different one today. We lost a tough one on Friday."

Florida improved to 9-0 in weekend series this season and 13-0 dating back to 2022. The combined series attendance of 20,713 marked the second-highest in program history.

Here's a look at three things learned from the Georgia series:

Starting P Hurston Waldrep is emerging

Waldrep had a second straight stellar outing on Saturday night, allowing one run on three hits with three walks and eight strikeouts in a no-decision to earn SEC pitcher of the week honors. A Thomasville, Ga., native, and Southern Mississippi transfer, Waldrep had some extra incentive facing his home-state team.

Florida's catcher Luke Heyman (28) with a grand slam in the bottom of the sixth inning against against Georgia, Friday, April 14, 2023, at Condron Family Baseball Park in Gainesville, Florida. The Gators lost Game 1 of the weekend series to the Bulldogs 13-11. [Cyndi Chambers/ Gainesville Sun] 2023

"Hurston threw the ball really well," O'Sullivan said.

Waldrep pitched seven innings for his second straight start with 17 strikeouts and an ERA of 2.57 over his last 14 innings pitched.

The Gators can come through in the clutch

Florida posted its second walk-off win of the season and 15th come-from-behind win of the season in its 2-1 win on Saturday night.

With the score tied at 1 in the ninth, Cade Kurland began the rally with a walk and moved to third on a double by Cody Halter. After pinch-hitter Richie Schiekofer grounded out to first, Robertson got behind 0-2 in the count before lacing a line drive into right center field for the game-winning hit.

"Pretty much right off the bat I was in celebration mode," Robertson said. "My guys did a good job of getting on base in front of me and I got a good pitch to hit and squared it up."

Jac Caglianone is back to form on the mound

Caglianone had a monster day at the plate against Georgia, going 2 for 4 with two home runs and 7 RBIs, posting his fourth multi-homer game of the season. His grand slam in the bottom of the eighth inning put Florida up 11-4, breaking open a tight game. With 21 homers on the season, Caglianone in now five homers shy of the school record for home runs in a season (26), shared by teammate Wyatt Langford (2022) and Matt LaPorta (2005).

But Caglianone's performance on the mound was even more encouraging. After struggling with control in recent starts, Caglianone (4-1) pitched 5 innings on earn the win, allowing 2 runs on 4 hits with 2 walks and 4 strikeouts.

"Cags was special today … On the mound, gave us five really good innings, and, offensively, with the two home runs and seven RBI," O'Sullivan said.

Before Sunday's start, O'Sullivan said he intended to keep Caglianone in the rotation despite his recent struggles.

"In order for us to put ourselves in the best position to win at the end of the year, he's going to have to factor into this, that's the bottom line," O'Sullivan said. "We could have a knee-jerk reaction and try to piece this thing together. Obviously, if we ever have to make a move we will, but we are still winning series, and he's going to have to be a big part of this."

Up next

The Gators will host Florida A&M on Tuesday night at Condron Family Ballpark (6 p.m., SEC Network Plus, WRUF).