Florida blanks South Carolina to claim final conference series of the season
Brandon Neely strikes out a career-high 10 batters
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - For the first time since March 26, the Florida baseball team is above .500 in Southeastern Conference play, after shutting out South Carolina 8-0 to claim their final conference series of the regular season.
The Gators (35-19) put on a dominant performance on both sides of the diamond. Starting pitcher Brandon Neely threw a career-high seven innings and struck out a career-high 10 Gamecocks (26-27), while not issuing a walk. At one point, Neely had retired a dozen consecutive batters.
At the plate, the orange and blue jumped out to 3-0 lead in the bottom of the 3rd. Sterlin Thompson started the rally when he singled in Wyatt Langford to make it 1-0. A few batters later, Josh Rivera hit a slow chopper to third base, but the throw to first short-hopped Kevin Madden and Rivera reached on the error, while driving in Jud Fabian for Florida’s second run of the game.
The Gators third run of the inning came courtesy of an rbi groundout by Jack Caglianone to shortstop. B.T. Riopelle touched home from third base and Florida gave itself a comfortable cushion.
Two innings later, Rivera would add a pair of rbi’s to his night when he belted a two-run bomb to the berm in left field. Riopelle also touched the plate for the second time in the game to balloon the Gators advantage to 5-0.
In the bottom of the 7th, the Fabian brothers posted a run to the team’s total. Jud Fabian led off the frame with a solo home run. He became just the second Florida baseball player to hit 20 or more home runs in back-to-back seasons. The only other player to accomplish the feat was Brad Wilkerson.
Jud’s younger brother, freshman Deric, delivered an rbi double to the left center gap to plate Rivera, who scored four times in the contest.
The final run of the game for Florida came in the bottom of the 8th, when Jud Fabian doubled out to left center, scoring Thompson.
The victory was the second straight for Florida against South Carolina in the series to help them clinch the series. The Gators closed out the regular season by winning their final three SEC series and 12 of their last 14 contests.
Florida will face South Carolina for a final time in the series on Saturday at 2 p.m.
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