No. 23 Florida baseball implodes to lose series to Vanderbilt

Gators blow back-to-back leads to drop third Southeastern Conference series
Brandon Sproat walks toward the pitcher's mound against Vanderbilt.
Brandon Sproat walks toward the pitcher's mound against Vanderbilt.(SEC Network+)
Published: Apr. 17, 2022 at 12:16 AM EDT
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NASHVILLE, Tn. (WCJB) - A day after blowing a two-run lead to lose the series opener to Southeastern Conference rival Vanderbilt, Florida’s pitching staff managed to repeat history and drop its third SEC series of the season.

Despite being spotted a 4-0 lead, Gators (21-14) starter Brandon Sproat allowed the Commodores (25-9) to score six consecutive runs to take the lead, and eventually win 8-6.

Sproat was solid through the first three innings of the ballgame, but he started to unravel in the bottom of the 4th. The sophomore gave up a solo home run to Dominic Keegan to cut the lead to 4-1, before surrendering an rbi single in the bottom of the 5th to only have a two-run advantage.

In the bottom of the 6th, with the bases loaded and two outs, Sproat threw a pitch over the heart of the plate that Enrique Bradley Jr. cracked to the right center field gap. Sterlin Thompson narrowly missed making the catch to record the third out and end the frame, but it ricocheted off the wall and all three runners on base came in to score as Bradley jr. ran standing up into third to give Vanderbilt a 6-4 lead.

The very next inning, B.T. Riopelle clubbed his third home run of the game over the wall in right center. The two-run shot was his second two-run homer of the contest. It was his first career multi-homer game in orange and blue, he’s the first player for Florida to have three or more home runs in a single game since Will Dalton in 2018, and the three round trips in a single game are a new career high.

With the ballgame even at 6-6 it was up to Florida’s bullpen to keep it that way. However, just like the night before, Gators reliever Blake Purnell couldn’t keep the Commodores off the base paths and in the home half of the inning, he surrendered the go-ahead run on a rbi single to left by Tate Kolwyck. Vandy tacked on one more run before the game was over.

Florida plays the series finale on Sunday at 1 p.m., so there’s still a chance to salvage a win and avoid a sweep.

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