No.5 Florida wins series against No.24 Alabama by taking first game of Friday’s doubleheader

The Gators took on Alabama in the first game of a doubleheader on Friday afternoon, defeating the Crimson Tide 8-7 to win their first SEC series of the 2023 season.

Alabama found the scoreboard for the first time in the series after Drew Williamson blasted an opposite-field three-run home run off Jac Caglianone in the top of the first inning.

Florida would immediately answer with a three-run shot of their own off the bat of BT Riopelle, who watched his ball land in the right field berm with a little help from the wind.

The six first inning runs doubled the total runs scored in the first game of this series (3).

The Crimson Tide would strike again in the second inning on an RBI single to second base, extending Alabama’s lead to 4-3.

Florida’s starter Jac Caglianone would settle down after a rocky start, tossing two clean frames while retiring the Tide in order in back-to-back innings.

In the bottom of the fourth, the Gators failed to bring home BT Riopelle from third base with one out in the inning. Those are the scoring chances Florida will need to capitalize on against SEC pitching.

Alabama got their small ball working in the top of the 5th, bunting over Will Hodo with one out in the inning before Drew Williamson drove him home on an RBI double, extending the Tide’s lead to 5-3.

Trailing by two runs, Florida cut their deficit in half on a solo shot from Cade Kurland in the bottom of the fifth, the seventh home run of the season for the true freshman. Kurland reached base four times in the contest, totaling two hits, two runs, and one RBI.

RHP Nick Ficarrotta took over for the Gators in the sixth inning, ending Caglianone’s outing after five innings. Florida’s two-way player didn’t have his best stuff on the mound tonight, tossing five innings and allowing five runs on five hits while striking out six batters. Caglianone’s command wasn’t where it needed to be either, walking two batters and hitting another while posting a strike percentage of 57%.

The Gators tied the game at five in the bottom of the sixth on a solo blast from Josh Rivera, the ninth home run of the season for the veteran shortstop.

After a clean frame, Ficarrotta ran into some trouble in the seventh inning after allowing a bloop single and a walk to back-to-back batters. LHP Cade Fisher took over in an attempt to retire lefty Drew Williamson, who was a tough out for the Gators on Friday afternoon. Williamson singled to left center, scoring Hodo from second and giving Alabama a 6-5 lead. Williamson finished the game with four hits and five RBIs. Fisher was pulled after one batter faced and three pitches. Ryan Slater would take over and keep the Gators from allowing any more runs.

Florida answered in the bottom half once again, tying the game on an RBI single off the bat of Michael Robertson, scoring Shelnut from third.

In the top of the 8th, Alabama’s Colby Shelton blasted his 11th home run of the season to right field, giving the Crimson Tide their fourth lead of the night (7-6).

With their backs against the wall, the Gators came through in the clutch. Colby Halter homered to left field to kick off the inning, tying the game at seven with his third long ball of the season. A few batters later, Josh Rivera singled down the third base line, bringing home Michael Robertson for the Gators victory in walk-off fashion.

The Florida Gators trailed four different times throughout the contest but never backed down from the fight and came away victorious.

Philip Abner (1-0) was credited with the win, tossing 1.1 innings, allowing no runs, one hit, and one walk while striking out two batters.

No.5 Florida (18-3, 2-0 SEC) will look for the sweep of No.24 Alabama in the second game of Friday’s doubleheader.





















Nick Marcinko
Nick is a recent graduate from the University of Florida with a degree in Telecommunications. He is passionate about all sports but specifically baseball and football. Nick interned at Inside the Gators and worked part time with Knights247 before joining the Gator Country family. Nick enjoys spending his free time golfing and at the beach.