Florida baseball: Gators snap skid, beat North Florida, 6-2

Kevin Brockway
The Gainesville Sun

Florida baseball snapped a three-game losing streak with a 6-2 win over North Florida on Tuesday night before an announced 4,769 at Condron Family Ballpark.

The Gators (32-10) broke open a tight game with three runs in the eighth on back-to-back RBI singles by BT Riopelle and Luke Heyman and a sacrifice fly from third baseman Colby Halter.

Yoel Tejeda Jr. (2-0) pitched four scoreless innings to earn the win and Ryan Slater worked out of a jam in the eighth to pitch 1.2 scoreless innings for his second save of the season. The game started after a 47-minute weather delay.

UNF (22-19) scored its two runs in the fifth inning on RBI double by center fielder Austin Brinling and RBI single by designated hitter Jakob Runnels.

"Tonight was an important win for us, to get back in the win column," Florida coach Kevin O'Sullivan said.

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Here are three takeaways from the win:

Lineup change sparks offense

After getting swept by South Carolina, O'Sullivan changed the lineup, moving second baseman Cade Kurland back to the leadoff spot and dropping Wyatt Langford to second in the order.

"This past weekend we didn't swing the bats as well as we have been, so we tried to tinker," O'Sullivan said. "But at the end of the day, your best guys have got to hit, whether they hit 1-2-3-4."

Florida's pitcher Yoel Tejeda Jr. (17) was the starter for Florida as they matched up against UNF, Tuesday, April 25, 2023, at Condron Family Baseball Park in Gainesville, Florida. UF won 6-2. [Cyndi Chambers/ Gainesville Sun] 2023

The move sparked Langford, who went 2 for 4 with two runs scored. Shortstop Josh Rivera had a two-out, RBI single in the first inning to score Langford and give the Gators an early 1-0 lead. Heyman then belted his eighth homer of the season to lead off the second and extend UF's lead to 2-0.

Jac Caglianone led off the third inning with a double, moved to third on a ground out by Rivera and scored on a sac fly by Riopelle to put UF up 3-0.

"We scored one in each of the first three innings, which was good," O'Sullivan said. "Took a little pressure off."

Tejeda shines in an important start

Tejada effectively mixed his fastball and slider, allowing no runs on 5 hits with 1 walk and 4 strikeouts.

"Yoel threw the ball as good as he has all year long," O'Sullivan said.

After giving up back-to-back singles with one out in the top of the first, Tejada got back to back strikeouts to get out of the inning. He retired the side in order in the third and was able to get out of a second and third, one out jam with a strikeout and soft lineout to end the fourth.

"I felt good," Tejeda said. "I've been working all year long on how I can get better, how can I adjust on the little things, how can I give our team the best chance to win."

Bullpen pitchers work out jams, throw strikes

Florida relievers Nick Ficarrotta, Phillip Abner and Slater combined to allow 2 runs in 5 innings to finish off the game.

In the seventh inning, Abner stranded the potential tying run on third base by getting a fly out to right field. In the eighth inning, Slater entered the game protecting a slim 3-2 lead with runners on first and second and one out. But Slater struck out UNF pinch hitter Peyton Sybrandt, then got catcher Dallen Leach to fly out to left field to end the inning.

Overall, Florida walked three batters on Tuesday night after issuing a combined 24 walks in the three losses last weekend at South Carolina.

"Our losses this year, the amount of walks we are issuing, it's just astounding," O'Sullivan said. "At some point, we've got to figure this thing out because if we don't throw the ball across the plate then eventually it's going to come back to bite us."