Gators defeat Bethune-Cookman for bounce-back victory

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The Florida Gators got off to a quick start against the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats on Wednesday at Condron Family Ballpark. A four-run first inning propelled the No. 4 Gators to a convincing 9-2 victory over the Wildcats (4-4).

It was a quality bounce-back performance for the Gators (6-2), who suffered a disappointing loss at Stetson on Tuesday.

“I’ve been pleased with how we’ve been scoring early in the game,” Gators coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “But we gotta continue to add on… Ideally, you want to be able to score in all nine innings.”

The Gators came out swinging in the first inning, scoring four runs. One of those runs came from Michael Robertson, scoring on a wild pitch by BCU pitcher Dylan Dudones.

Dudones struggled in the first inning, allowing a three-run home run off the bat of Alabama transfer Colby Shelton.

In the bottom of the third, Gators senior Tyler Shelnut capitalized on a Dudones’ mistake pitch, hitting a solo homer to give the Gators a five-run advantage.

“I was definitely looking for a heater somewhere that I could smash,” Shelnut said.

In the fourth, the Wildcats made a pitching change, replacing Dudones with senior Yoansell Diaz. The Wildcats escaped the inning without a score from the Gators, who stranded two.

The Gators added to their lead in the fifth inning. Shelnut continued to see the ball well, doubling to score Luke Heyman.

The sixth inning proved to be a difficult one for the Gators’ pitching. Freshman lefty Robert Satin, who replaced starter Fisher Jameson, exited the contest after throwing three scoreless innings and striking out four batters.

Freshman Reilly Witmer came in for Satin. Witmer didn’t last long, though, exiting the contest after walking the first two batters he faced. With the bases loaded, redshirt junior Blake Purnell cleaned up the mess, stranding all three BCU runners.

In the top of the eighth inning, the Gators replaced Purnell, who allowed two base runners to reach, with freshman Alex Philpott. The young righty threw a wild pitch, allowing the two Wildcats on base to advance. Bethune-Cookman’s Peter Vazquez singled to right field, leading to catcher Irvin Escobar and infielder Ramses Cordova scoring.

The Gators capped their scoring in the bottom of the eighth. Star junior first baseman Jac Caglianone hit a three-run home run to increase the Gators’ lead to seven runs.

“The score really doesn’t indicate how we threw the ball,” O’Sullivan said. “We walked eight, hit two, so we had 10 (free) batters and to be able to do that and to only give up two runs is hard to do.

“I thought Robert Satin, when he came in, threw three scoreless, kind of slowed things down for us. I do think Bethune is much improved, and I was a bit concerned coming in because our pitching was going to be young on the mound. But I thought Robert came in and did a great job.”

O’Sullivan said he expects to have starting second baseman Cade Kurland back in time for the series against Miami. Kurland, who was hit by a pitch on Friday against Columbia, will take batting practice for the first time Thursday. If he is ready, he will start against the Hurricanes.

The Gators will go down south for a series this weekend against the Miami Hurricanes (5-3), who are coming off a loss against FGCU. The three-game series begins at 7 p.m. ET Friday in Coral Gables, Florida.

Rhiannon Thomas
Rhiannon Thomas
Rhiannon Thomas is a sophomore at the University of Florida, majoring in Sports Journalism. Her favorite sports include baseball, college football and Premier League soccer. Follow her on X (Twitter) @RhiannonTThomas.

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