Florida baseball; 3 takeaways from UF's 6-3 win over Vanderbilt in the SEC Tournament
Florida Gators catcher BT Riopelle is turning Hoover Metropolitan stadium into his personal playground.
Riopelle belted two more home runs on Thursday, including a tie-breaking grand slam in the bottom of the seventh inning, lifting Florida to a 6-3 win over Vanderbilt in the SEC Baseball Tournament in Hoover, Ala.
Riopellle's first home run, a towering solo shot to right, put the Gators up 2-1 in the fourth.
Then, with the bases loaded and two outs in the seventh, Riopelle lofted a 1-0 pitch from Vanderbilt reliever Bryce Cunningham over the wall in left center to give the Gators a 6-2 lead.
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"I'm just seeing the ball well," Riopelle said. "We're seeing the ball well as a team right now."
Coming off a walk-off three-run homer Wednesday night against Alabama, Riopelle now has three home runs and 7 RBIs in two SEC Tournament games.
With the win, the Gators (44-13) advanced to Saturday's SEC Tournament semifinals.
Here are three takeaways from the win:
A solid outing for Florida starter Brandon Sproat
Sproat pitched six innings, allowing two runs on seven hits with a walk and seven strikeouts in his final tuneup before regional play. He wound up with a no-decision.
Of Sproat's 98 pitches, 60 were strikes. Sproat worked out of a bases-loaded, two-out jam in the sixth, getting Vanderbilt second baseman R.J. Austin to ground out to him to end the threat.
Freshman Luke Heyman goes deep
Freshman designated hitter Luke Heyman belted a solo homer in the second inning to tie the score at 1.
Heyman belted a pitch from Vanderbilt starter Hunter Owen over the 405-foot sign in center for his 10th homer of the season.
Florida's bullpen finishes it off
Lefty Cade Fisher, righty Ryan Slater, and lefty Phillip Abner combined to allow one run over three innings to preserve the win.
Slater (9-0) earned the win, allowing one run in 1.1 innings. With runners on second and third and two outs in the seventh, Florida coach Kevin O'Sullivan turned to Slater, who struck out catcher Jack Bulger to end the threat,
Slater surrendered a solo homer to shortstop Jonathan Vastine in the eighth inning. The Gators then turned to Abner to close it out, who struck out the side in the ninth for his third save of the season.
The Gators were off Friday and face the winner of Friday's elimination game between Vanderbilt and Alabama in the semifinals on Saturday at 4:30 p.m.