No.7 Florida takes series over No.5 Vandy behind great bullpen effort

A strong bullpen effort led No.7 Florida to a 6-2 series clinching victory over No.5 Vanderbilt inside Condron Family Ballpark on Saturday night.

The win moves Florida into a tie with Vanderbilt atop the SEC East standings with both teams sitting at 17-9 in conference play. If the Gators and Commadores were to end the regular season tied, Florida would get the nod due to this series victory.

Hurston Waldrep’s typical Saturday start was interrupted by an hour and 16-minute weather delay following a perfect first frame from the right hander.

After the delay, Head Coach Kevin O’Sullivan opted to turn to the bullpen, saving Waldrep for Sunday.

It’s safe to say that was the right decision as the trio of Ryan Slater, Philip Abner, and Brandon Neely tossed a combined eight innings, allowing one earned run, five hits, and three walks while striking out nine.

Slater (8-0) earned the victory in the contest, moving into second in the SEC with his eighth win of the season.

“Ryan (Slater) came in and did a great job,” Head Coach Kevin O’Sullivan said postgame. “He gave up a couple of hard contacts there in that last inning so we went to Philip (Abner) and he did his job. (Brandon) Neely did his thing. Our bullpen picked us up today. What turned into a really tough situation at the beginning of the game turned into a positive.”

After two scoreless frames, Cade Kurland sent a missile over the left field wall for his 15th home run of the season, giving Florida a 1-0 lead while passing Josh Rivera for second most home runs on the team. Kurland is now just three home runs shy of tying the single-season freshman home run record set by JJ Schwarz in 2015 (18).

Vanderbilt snapped its 11-inning scoreless streak to open the series in the fifth. Leading off the frame, RJ Austin homered to left field to tie the matchup at one run apiece.

The Gators immediately answered in the bottom half of the inning, striking for four runs after Wyatt Langford’s two RBI double, Jac Caglianone’s sac fly, and Josh Rivera’s RBI single.

“It was weird writing the lineup up (on Friday) without him right there in the middle,” O’Sullivan said on having Josh Rivera back. “He had a really good night coming back with three hits and made a great play to his left, probably saved a run. A really good night, honestly.”

Florida scored five runs off Vanderbilt starter Devin Futrell, who had not allowed more than three runs in a start all season.

Cade Kurland delivered again one inning later, knocking home Deric Fabian with two-out RBI single to make it 6-1 Florida.

“Cade Kurland had another really good night at the plate,” O’Sullivan said. “He had another two hits, hit the home run to left field and got us on the board against a really good (pitcher).”

“He had a couple more hits again and played a really good third base. It’s a really good story,” O’Sullivan said on Deric Fabian’s performance. “I’m really happy for him, too.”

Vanderbilt would score one more run (unearned) in the top of the eighth before Brandon Neely closed the door on the game and series.

The Gators have won 11-straight series at Condron Family Ballpark dating back to last season and finished a perfect 9-0 in home series in this year’s regular season.

Florida is 32-20 in the series under Head Coach Kevin O’Sullivan featuring a 18-5 mark in Gainesville.







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.