Gators Baseball escapes Nashville with victory; Shelnut leads with 5 RBIs – ESPN 98.1 FM

The Florida Gators baseball team defeated the No. 13 Vanderbilt Commodores 6-2 on Saturday in Nashville, Tennessee.

A solid performance on the mound from Jac Caglianone and a five-RBI output from Tyler Shelnut allowed Florida to save a game in the three-game SEC series.

The Gators (20-19, 8-10 SEC) forced Vanderbilt (29-11, 10-8) into ten runners and did not allow a score after the third inning. Fisher Jameson picked up his first collegiate save, striking out six batters in 3.1 innings.

Cags day on the hill

Caglianone (5-0) entered on a nine-game home run streak. The junior tied the NCAA record for most consecutive games with a home run on Friday and needed one more Saturday to take sole possession of the record. But Caglianone had another responsibility: He took the mound for the Gators and threw well enough to prevent the sweep.

Caglianone pitched five innings and allowed two runs. A respectable performance from Caglianone, but Saturday’s performance was determined by the runners the left-hander left behind. Caglianone allowed six hits and three walks, but left six Commodores on base. Caglianon’s usual strikeout chase was limited. Vandy struck out just five times, but Caglianone allowed light contact that produced quick outs.

The Golden Spikes hopeful didn’t hit a home run, but he did reach base on a single in the seventh inning, extending his hitting streak to 18 straight games.

Shelley the Savior

Vanderbilt starting pitcher J.D. Thompson mowed down the Florida lineup for three innings. Despite the leadoff hitter reaching base in the first four innings, the Gators had little success in expanding into runs.

Florida got on the board in the fourth on a double by Cade Kurland, scoring Colby Shelton who had doubled. But out there, the Vandy pitcher was cruising. Thompson struck out six in 3.2 innings and was one strike away from ending the fourth inning with a 2-1 lead.

But Florida coach Kevin O’Sullivan noticed resin and a white substance on Thompson’s right arm. O’Sullivan asked the referees to check Thompson’s arm and after a 10-minute break, Thompson was sent off for illegal use of foreign substances. Then Vandy reliever Ethan McElvain left the game with the trainer after suffering an apparent injury during warm-ups.

The Gators scored no points in the fourth, but this was the turning point in the game.

In the fifth, the Commodores allowed two Gators on base on a hit pitch and a walk. With runners on the corners and two outs, veteran Shelnut came to bat. Shelnut was hitless with two strikeouts in the at bat.

But after an 0-2 count, the freshman Vandy reliever left the field too far at the plate and Shelnut hit his 12th home run to left center field to give Florida its first lead of the series. The Gators have come from behind in all eight SEC victories.

Shelnut added insurance runs in the ninth with two runners on board. Vanderbilt intentionally walked Caglianone in his final at bat of the game, keeping the junior from breaking the record for most consecutive games with a home run. However, with runners on second and third, Shelnut delivered a two-RBI double to extend Florida’s lead to 6-2.

Next one

Florida will take on the Stetson Hatters on Tuesday at Condron Family Ballpark and hope to split the home-and-hone series. The Gators were upset during their visit to DeLand on Feb. 27, losing 7-4.

Tuesday’s starter has not yet been announced, but the first pitch is at 6:30 PM (SEC Network+, ESPN 98.1-FM/850-AM WRUF).