Florida baseball: More home runs means more meal money for catcher BT Riopelle
After belting three home runs in a five at-bat stretch, the last thing that Florida Gators catcher BT Riopelle should want right now is a day off.
But after powering Florida to another SEC Tournament win against Vanderbilt on Thursday, Riopelle said he's welcoming the chance to take Friday off and stay in Hoover, Ala., at least two more days.
"It's awesome," Riopelle said in an SEC Network interview following the game. "We get more per diem, so, that's a good thing. We don't get to eat mall Chinese food this time, either."
Asked about still worrying about per diem in the NIL era, Riopelle responded: "I don't do a lot of NIL stuff. I'm going into finance. I just have to manage money, not take in money."
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Riopelle belted two home runs and 5 RBIs, including a tiebreaking grand slam in the seventh inning, to lift Florida to a 6-3 win over Vanderbilt on Thursday night at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium. The win advanced Florida to Saturday's SEC Tournament semifinals.
Riopelle's first homer, a solo shot in the fourth inning, put Florida up 2-1. His second, a grand slam in the seventh, gave Florida a 6-2 lead it wouldn't relinquish.
Riopelle played a little cat and mouse with Vanderbilt relief pitcher Bryce Cunningham, jumping on an 0-1 slider to power the grand slam 424-foot over the fence in left center field. He struck out on a back door slider from Cunningham in his previous at bat.
"He spun me one on my first pitch (in the seventh inning) and I changed my at bat a little bit, my approach," Riopelle said. "He spun me another one and I didn't miss it. It was a good approach."
Entering SEC Tournament play in a 4 for 28 slump, Riopelle improved to 3 for 8 with three home runs and 8 RBIs in two SEC Tournament games. His walk off, three-run homer in the bottom of he 11th lifted the Gators to a 7-6 win over Alabama on Wednesday night.
"Just trying to change it up a little bit, a little more tendencies I see from pitchers," Riopelle said. "It's just kind of a back and forth game pitchers and hitters do, and I'm taking advantage of those tendencies right now."