Gators use 10-run first inning to defeat Columbia

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Powered by starting pitcher Cade Fisher’s career-high 10 strikeouts, the Florida Gators defeated the Columbia Lions, 15-6, on Friday at Condron Family Ballpark.

Photo of Cade Fisher courtesy of Florida athletics.

After a rough season-opening performance, Fisher bounced back in a big way. Fisher immediately set the tone in the first inning, pitching a three and out with 10 of his 16 first-inning pitches strikes.

The Gators fed off of Fisher’s energy, exploding for a 10-run first inning. The scoring started with a single by Colby Shelton and a triple by Ty Evans. It continued when Dale Thomas hit a single up the middle to give the Gators their fourth and fifth runs of the game.

The scoring did not stop there, as the next batter in the order, designated hitter Brody Bonay, hit a two-run home run to increase the Gators’ lead to 7-0.

However, Florida faced adversity when Cade Kurland was hit by a pitch and left the game. Kurland’s departure prompted a first-inning pitching change for the Lions, with Will Parkinson coming to the mound.

Armando Albert came in for Kurland and went 2 for 3 in the game. Gators coach Kevin O’Sullivan was glad to see Albert take advantage of his opportunity.

“(Albert) had two really good at-bats. He’s versatile defensively,” O’Sullivan said. “It was good seeing him get out there.”

O’Sullivan also said the X-rays on Kurland came back negative.

With only one out in the first inning, it was far from over. The Gators closed out the first with a double by Luke Heyman and a sacrifice fly by Shelton, and the lead grew to 10-0.

Following two scoreless innings from both teams, the Lions got on the board in the fourth inning with a home run by Anton Lazits, cutting into the deficit by two runs. Columbia earned two more runs in the sixth on yet another powerful home run from Lazits to make it 10-4.

The Lions scored again in the seventh inning on a double by Griffin Palfrey. The once 10-run lead by the Gators was now trimmed to four.

Nevertheless, the Gators responded by scoring five runs in the eighth, and they never looked back.

Fisher, after a career night, said he felt “more in the zone” in his second game. He allowed six runs in two-plus innings in Florida’s shocking season-opening loss to St. John’s on Feb. 16.

“I was in that mindset, like… I’m going to throw everything I can over the plate,” he said. “If you hit it, you hit it… I was just trying to throw it across the plate and the defense worked.”

Additionally, Fisher credited the offense’s hot start in taking some pressure off him going into the second.

“When we’re up 10, it’s just a lot easier to kind of settle down and realize that if I give them a few hits, it’s OK,” he said.

Fisher threw 58 of his 86 pitches for strikes. He attacked the zone, surrendering zero walks to go along with the 10 strikeouts in five innings.

The streaking Gators continue their home series against Columbia at 6 p.m. ET Saturday at Condron Family Ballpark.

Ava Baccari
Ava Baccari
Ava Baccari is a junior undergraduate student at the University of Florida. She is majoring in Journalism with a specialization in Sports and Media. Follow her on X (Twitter) @avabsports.

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