No. 23 Florida baseball outlasts Vanderbilt in 10 innings to win weekend finale

Deric Fabian rescues Gators with 10th inning home run
The Florida baseball team celebrates a 4-3 victory in 10 innings against Vanderbilt.
The Florida baseball team celebrates a 4-3 victory in 10 innings against Vanderbilt.(ESPN)
Published: Apr. 17, 2022 at 7:38 PM EDT
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NASHVILLE, Tn. (WCJB) - After suffering head scratching losses in back-to-back games due to the bullpen’s inefficiency to hold a lead, costing No. 23 Florida its Southeastern Conference series with Vanderbilt, the orange and blue had one final shot at salvaging some pride on their road trip.

Despite Tyler Nesbitt surrendering the tying home run to Jack Bulger in the bottom of the 9th, Deric Fabian hit a towering solo home run in the 10th to rescue the Gators (22-14) from being swept by the Commodores (25-10) and win the weekend finale, 4-3.

For the third game in-a-row this series, Florida jumped out to an early lead. Colby Halter started the inning with a leadoff single, before being caught attempting to steal second base. His single was followed by three consecutive base hits, including an infield single by Wyatt Langford that scored Jud Fabian from third to give the Gators a 1-0 lead.

Hot swinging B.T. Riopelle, who homered three times in Saturday’s 8-6 loss, grounded into a fielder’s choice, but the chopper to second was deep enough to score Sterlin Thompson and push the orange and blue’s advantage to 2-0 by the end of the frame.

In the top of the 3rd, Fabian stepped to the plate with the score still the same and unloaded on a pitch that never had a chance of staying inside the fence. His solo home run made it 3-0 and gave him 15 homers on the year to tie him for the most long balls in the conference.

Florida starter Brandon Neely delivered the best performance of any Gator frontman to take the hill. Neely went 6 & 1/3 innings, allowed just one run on three hits, struck out seven and only issued one walk. The lone run Neely gave up came on a solo home run to Parker Noland in the bottom of the 6th to cut the lead to 3-1.

In the bottom of the 9th, Nesbitt was one out away from closing the door on the Commodores, but Bulger, who delivered the walk-off single Friday night in game one, struck again. This time he smashed a game-tying two-run round trip to even the contest, 3-3. It was the third consecutive game Florida’s pitching staff blew a lead.

However, unlike the previous two contests that ended up in favor of the home team, the Gators finally got the upper-hand. Deric Fabian was 0-3 by the time he stepped to the plate in the top of the 10th, but didn’t take long to put Florida’s ninth hit of the game on the board. It was a solo home run out to left field that brought his teammates out of the dugout in a hurry.

With a 4-3 lead, Nesbitt returned to the mound, but instead of a drama-free inning, Enrique Bradfield Jr. managed to get on first, thanks to Halter’s throwing error to first. Bradfield then took second after Nesbitt was called for a balk. So, with the tying run at second, Nesbitt composed himself and induced a groundout to second to end the game.

Florida now returns to Gainesville an eight game homestand, featuring a conference series with Kentucky and No. 1 Tennessee.

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