UF baseball splits exhibition doubleheader with Georgia Southern

The Gators split a 7-inning exhibition doubleheader with Georgia Southern on Saturday at Florida Ballpark. The Eagles took the opener 3-1, and the Gators bounced back with a 7-6 win in game two.

The Eagles opened the scoring in game one in the top of the third inning. Jason Swan greeted UF reliever Garrett Milchin with a first-pitch single to left. Kyler Hultgren moved him over with a sacrifice bunt back to Milchin. With two outs, Jarrett Brown singled to left, and Swan scored.

UF freshman shortstop Deric Fabian tied the game in the bottom of the fifth with an opposite-field home run off of the right field foul pole.

The Eagles immediately grabbed the lead right back in the sixth thanks to some poor infield defense by the Gators. Jesse Sherrill led off with a bloop single to left field off of Blake Purnell.

Parker Biederer tried to move him over with a bunt, but he popped it up. Purnell didn’t charge the ball and left it for catcher BT Riopelle to play on a bounce. Riopelle couldn’t handle it, and it was an infield single.

Christian Avant followed with another bunt attempt, this time to third base. Kris Armstrong stayed on the base initially, and, by the time he finally charged the ball, it was too late.

Noah Ledford grounded into a 4-6-3 double play to plate the go-ahead run.

Georgia Southern tacked on an insurance run in the seventh. Hultgren doubled into the left field corner with two outs off of Philip Abner. Abner then plunked pinch hitter Noah Searcy. Sherrill singled up the middle to score a run.

Florida starting pitcher Hunter Barco looked magnificent, retiring all six batters he faced with four strikeouts. His fastball was up a tick from last year and into the 93-94 miles per hour range. He threw a first-pitch strike to every batter he faced.

Freshmen Carsten Finnvold and Kyle Hartman turned in impressive innings of relief with no baserunners allowed and a strikeout apiece.

Wyatt Langford had a nice game at the plate, going 2-for-3 with a double.

Georgia Southern jumped on Florida starter Brandon Sproat right away in game two. Biederer doubled to deep left field with one out. A groundout moved him to third, and he scored on a wild pitch.

Sterlin Thompson immediately evened things with a home run to straightaway center off of Ben Johnson.

Sproat bounced back from his rough first inning to retire the side in his second and final inning, picking up a strikeout along the way.

Gators freshman lefty Pierce Coppola got two quick outs in the third before running into trouble.

Biederer doubled into the left field corner, and Avant walked. Ledford brought them both in with another double into the left field corner to give GSU the 3-1 lead.

The Eagles tacked on another run in the fourth off of Anthony Ursitti. Austin Thompson walked, Sean White was hit by a pitch and Sherrill reached on a bunt single to load the bases with two outs. Pinch hitter Sam Blancato walked in a run to make it 4-1.

Deric Fabian launched his second home run of the day in the bottom of the inning, this one a two-run shot into UF’s bullpen in right field that cut the deficit to 4-3.

The momentum in UF’s dugout didn’t last long.

Corey Dowdell laced a pinch-hit single off of Timmy Manning to lead off the fifth, and Searcy followed with a two-run shot to right center to make it 6-3.

Matthew Prevesk reached via a two-out walk in the bottom of the fifth, and Corey Robinson reached via a fielding error by the third baseman. Thompson scored Prevesk with a single to right to make it 6-4.

Jud Fabian followed with a bloop single between the first and second basemen to make it a 6-5 game.

A wild pitch advanced both runners into scoring position, but Kris Armstrong flew out to left to end the inning.

Langford blasted a no-doubter to right field to lead off the bottom of the sixth inning to tie the game at six.

Rene Lastres lined a one-out double into the right field corner and went to third on an errant pickoff throw. Tucker Talbitt walked to put runners on the corners with one out. Jorge De Goti grounded to third, and they got Lastres out at the plate.

No worries. Prevesk smashed a double down the right field line to score Talbott and give the Gators the 7-6 lead.

Nick Ficarrotta secured the win with a scoreless seventh inning, though the two teams agreed to still play the bottom of the inning.

The Gators will play one more exhibition game this fall, a 10-inning affair in Jacksonville on Friday night against Georgia.

Ethan was born in Gainesville and has lived in the Starke, Florida, area his entire life. He played basketball for five years and knew he wanted to be a sportswriter when he was in middle school. He’s attended countless Gators athletic events since his early childhood, with baseball being his favorite sport to attend. He’s a proud 2019 graduate of the University of Florida and a 2017 graduate of Santa Fe College. He interned with the University Athletic Association’s communications department for 1 ½ years as a student and has spent the last two football seasons writing for InsideTheGators.com. He is a long-suffering fan of the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Tampa Bay Rays. You can follow him on Twitter @ehughes97.