Saturday, May 14, 2016

UF Baseball: #1 Florida Defeats #7 Vandy in Series Opener

The No. 1 Florida Gators (42-8, 17-7 in SEC play) won a thrilling series opener over the No. 7 Vanderbilt Commodores (36-14, 14-11 in SEC play) by a score of 4-2!

Making what many assumed to be his last ever regular season start at home, Logan Shore (10-0, 2.29 ERA) was absolutely dynamic! Florida's junior ace tossed his third complete game of the season and allowed two earned runs on six hits while striking out six, walking none, and hitting a batter. When it was all said and done, Shore had thrown a career-high 107 pitches!

Offensively, Florida banged out just five hits tonight. However, three of them came in a crazy seventh inning. Prior to this inning, Vandy ace Jordan Sheffield (7-4, 2.34 ERA) was cruising. He had allowed just one run on two hits while striking out five, with the only extra base-hit being a Buddy Reed double in the second inning. When the seventh rolled around though, all of that changed.

Peter Alonso led off the inning getting hit by a pitch. After him, Buddy Reed recorded his second hit of the game and singled Alonso to third. Upon reaching third, Alonso was pulled for pinch runner Eddie Demurias.

Now, with runners on first and third and the Gators down 2-1, freshman Deacon Liput strode to the plate. Hitless in the game to this point, Liput smacked a 3-1 pitch off the right field wall for a game-tying double.

As Liput reached second, Buddy Reed overran third base and was caught in a rundown. Fighting to avoid an easy out, Reed forced Vandy to make two throws before dashing towards the plate. When Reed broke for the plate, Vandy pitcher Jordan Sheffield double-clutched the throw and Reed slid under Will Toffey's tag to score the go-ahead run for the Gators! Needless to say I went crazy seeing all this unfold.

To add icing to the cake, Liput advanced to third during the pickle. He would later score on Nelson Maldonado's one-out single to extend the lead to 4-2.  Fittingly, Maldonado plated both the game's first and final runs as he had knocked in Buddy Reed with an RBI groundout in the second. 

In addition to picking up his second RBI of the contest, Nelly would steal his second base of the season just a couple pitches later. 

Besides Reed and the two freshmen, the only other Gator to record a hit was JJ Schwarz. He was 1-4 with a single in the first inning.

Final Takeaway:
The No. 1 Florida Gators have now taken over first place in the SEC East after an impressive win and No. 8 South Carolina's (37-12, 16-8 in SEC play) 3-0 loss to No. 2 Texas A&M (38-10, 17-8 in SEC play). Before previewing Game 2 of the Vandy series, here are my final tidbits from a memorable Game 1:

  • Buddy Reed went down in the bottom of the fourth inning with what looked like an apparent knee injury after he stepped on first base awkwardly. It was feared that maybe his season was over due to a hyper-extended knee, but this was far from true. Buddy trotted back to center field in the next half inning, and then scored the go-ahead run two innings later.
  • Third baseman Jonathan India made an incredible diving stop in the top of the fifth inning, but first baseman Peter Alonso was unable to dig out his throw to complete the play. Vandy would score their only two runs in this inning.
  • Peter Alonso made a couple of nice defensive plays as well, but he would be replaced by Christian Hicks in the eighth inning due to some type of injury to his left hand.
  • Two Vandy players had multiple hits, Julian Infante (2-4 with a run scored) and Will Toffey (2-4 with a run scored).
  • Peter Alonso tagged Vandy shortstop Connor Kaiser so hard on a back pick that it made Kaiser's face bleed. He would remain in the game, but was also out on the pickoff.
  • Kaiser was not Mike Rivera's only victim on the base paths tonight, as the sophomore also threw out Will Toffey trying to steal second base in the second inning. 
  • Florida has now won three straight games against Vandy dating back to last season. This is also the Gators' first home win against the Commodores since May 8th of 2014!
  • Speaking of winning, Florida won its 42nd game tonight. That's a NEW SCHOOL RECORD for regular season victories!

After Shore's masterful performance, the Gators are in prime position to win the regular season series over Vandy for the second straight season! The Gators will call on junior lefty A.J. Puk (2-2, 3.04 ERA) to get the job done and officially eliminate Vandy from SEC East contention. 

That of course is easier said than done, as Puk has not won at the Mac since March 19th against Missouri. The Commodores will counter with sophomore right hander Kyle Wright (6-3, 1.89 ERA), who has won his last two starts.

Game time for the potential series clincher is 4 p.m. It can bee seen on ESPN2 and heard on the Gator IMG Sports Network.

*All stats accredited to

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