Gators win series against Texas A&M

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Tyler Shelnut stepped up when Florida needed him most on Sunday afternoon. The senior third baseman launched a go-ahead two-run home run in the eighth inning to lead the Gators past Texas A&M.

The late-inning home run by Shelnut helped the No. 8 Gators win the three-game series against No. 4 Texas A&M (18-2, 1-2 SEC) at Condron Family Ballpark. The Gators (12-7, 2-1 SEC) also defeated the Aggies on Friday.

It was a potential momentum-building series for the Gators, who handed Texas A&M its first two losses of the season.

“That’s honestly what SEC baseball is,” Shelnut said, “We talk about how they’re won by one pitch… or one play.”

Sophomore Jace LaViolette scored the first run for the Aggies in the top of the first inning on a throwing error by Gators second baseman Cade Kurland.

Texas A&M loaded the bases in the first inning and had a chance to break open the game. But talented Florida starting pitcher Jac Caglianone struck out the next batter to strand the runners.

The second inning was a successful one for the Gators. Shelnut scored on a single by Kurland to tie the game, 1-1.

In the top of the fifth, junior Braden Montgomery blasted a solo home run, putting the Aggies up 2-1.

It didn’t take long for the Gators to respond, though. Sophomore catcher Luke Heyman hit a rocket to left field to tie the game at 2-2.

The game remained scoreless until the late-inning heroics by the Gators. In the bottom of the eighth inning, the Gators showed life and took the lead.

Heyman singled to start the inning. After two straight flyouts, Shelnut stepped up to the plate. He delivered an 0-2 pitch over the left field fence for a two-run home run to put the Gators ahead.

“When we’re playing good ball, there’s not a lot of teams out there that can beat us,” Shelnut said.

Caglianone, a top prospect for July’s MLB draft, pitched 5 1/3 innings and allowed two runs (one earned), seven strikeouts and five walks.

This season, the lefty has a 1.77 ERA with 34 strikeouts and 13 walks allowed in 20 1/3 innings in four starts. The Gators are 4-0 in games Caglianone starts this season.

“He battled,” Florida coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “His fastball got better as the game went on, and he reached back and got 95, 96, 97 when he needed to. His slider was really good today. Changeup wasn’t quite as sharp as it has been in the last few starts, but I mean, obviously, you could see the development on where he’s at.

“We get performances like that from him every Sunday. It puts us in a good situation.”

The Gators will resume play against the Jacksonville Dolphins (7-12) at 6:30 p.m. ET Tuesday at home.

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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