The Florida Gators and Vanderbilt Commodores entered Sunday’s rubber-match with rested bullpens thanks to a pair of complete games from Logan Shore on Friday and Kyle Wright on Saturday. In a series where offense has been at a premium and with both clubs boasting fully stocked and ready to go bullpens, Sunday promised to be more of the same.
So, naturally, the Gators (43-9, 18-8 SEC) won a 10-6 offensive showcase on Sunday over Vanderbilt (37-15, 15-12 SEC).
Two days removed from losing their best bat in Pete Alonso and less than a day removed from being shutout the Gator bats slugged out 13 hits starting with Deacon Liput’s three-run home run in the very first inning.
“My coaches probably weren’t happy when I started the swing,” Liput said smiling after the game. “The pitch was a little up but I was just trying to get one out front, not be late and really don’t miss it. In that situation you don’t want to get behind with two strikes.”
Jonathan India and JJ Schwarz hit back-to-back, one out singles before Buddy Reed struck out for the second out of the inning. That set up Liput, who had a huge RBI triple on Friday and the freshman made the most of the opportunity.
Alex Faedo (10-1) started strong, fulfilling his end of the deal. The sophomore set the Dores down in order in the first, and struck out the side on the second after a one-out walk. Faedo came back out in the third with a strikeout, business as usual, before the Vanderbilt lineup turned over and flipped the script.
Tyler Campbell laced a double down the left field line then Ro Coleman, who is very generously listed at 5-5 in the program, singled to right field to give the Dores runners on the corners. Jeren Kendall, Vanderbilt’s best hitter who was mired in a 0-10 series slump, trimmed the lead to 3-1 with a single that scored Campbell and moved Coleman to third. Bryan Reynolds took an elevated fastball the other way, clearing bleachers in left field and the bases, to give Vanderbilt a 4-3 advantage.
“They did a good job the second time around the lineup getting to me,” Faedo said of the third inning.
Rather than sulk, Florida went on the attack in its half of the third. Dalton Guthrie singled to start the inning and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Jonathan India hit a ball as hard as you can, right at Vanderbilt shortstop Connor Kaiser for the first out. JJ Schwarz singled through the left side to plate Guthrie, and scored one batter later when Buddy Reed laced a double into the right-center gap. Liput walked and a wild pitched moved him and Reed both into scoring position before Nelson Maldonado’s groundout scored Reed, reestablishing Florida’s lead at 6-4.
Faedo trotted back out to the mound with a fresh start but Vanderbilt wouldn’t let him get comfortable. Jason Delay led the inning off with a double, moved to third on Ethan Paul’s double to right and both runners scored on a Kaiser single up the middle. The game, which had seen momentum start in Florida’s corner, swing back to Vanderbilt and then Florida had swung once again.
Florida went down quietly in the fourth and Faedo returned to form in the fifth, stranding a runner in a clean inning. The offense picked him up yet again when Jeremy Vasquez took a bases loaded fastball to the thigh and Maldonado scored on Ryan Larson’s sacrifice fly, making the score 8-6. Faedo worked a 1-2-3 inning in the sixth to keep Florida’s lead.
“I think the fifth and sixth innings for Alex were important for us,” said O’Sullivan.
Dane Dunning took over for Faedo in the seventh and was dominant. The junior retired all six batters he faced in order, striking out three. The Gators tacked on two more runs in the ninth inning. Guthrie’s third hit of the day scored Blake Reese, who pinch ran for Jeremy Vasquez and India singled home Larson a batter later. Shaun Anderson came into the game in the ninth inning and needed just seven pitches to finish it out.
“I told the team at the end there that it kind of shows that we can score runs without Pete [Alonso] in the lineup,” O’Sullivan said. “That’s a learning experience for them to know that we can do that because we haven’t had Pete out of the lineup the whole year.”