Florida Baseball steps up and earn huge series win over Texas A&M

The Gators took two out of three from the Aggies
Cyndi Chambers Sports / USA TODAY

Coming into the weekend, the buzzard were starting to form around Florida Baseball. Even though the Gators had won all three weekend series they had played, including a series win over Miami, losses to Stetson, UCF, and FSU, combined with a pitching staff that was still searching for answers, and it was plausible that a series loss to Texas A&M would officially drop the Gators from the nation's elite in 2024.

The pitching is still far from perfect, but Florida showcased it has a pathway to knock off anyone in the country in a three game series as the Gators took two out of three from the previously undefeated Aggies.

Florida Baseball: Whatever It Takes

Coming into the series, the bulk of the pressure was cast upon Cade Fisher and Liam Peterson. Both were coming off poor outings against St. Mary's and neither had made it past five innings this season. On the positive side, Fisher made it six innings on Friday.

He also gave up six runs along the way, including a disastrous five run second inning that was capped by a three run home run from Texas A&M's Gavin Grahovac.

Florida's bats stayed hot, though, and were able to match Texas A&M swing for swing. Tyler Shelnut hit a three-run home run of his own to give the Gators a 6-5 lead in the third inning.

Only for Fisher to promptly give up a home run to tie it back up.

But Florida showcased pathway number one it has to win a baseball: brute force.

Cade Kurland and Colby Shelton both hit solo home runs and Brandon Neely was inserted for a nine out save.

When asked why Neely was used for nine out, Kevin O'Sullivan simply responded with "I'm tired of losing, honestly."

Game 2

The bat for Florida were not able to bail out Peterson as he too couldn't keep the ball in the park. Within five pitches, Peterson allowed a double, hit a guy, and gave up a three run home run to Braden Montgomery.

Even when the Gators tried to give Peterson run support, he gave up back to back home runs in the third, followed by a single to end his night with two innings pitched and six earned runs.

Dale Thomas hit a two run double to pull it to 8-5, but that's as close as the Gators got and lost 10-6.

Jac Day

The pathway for Florida to win a series involved winning at least one slugfest and get a quality start on Sunday from Jac Caglianone.

He wasn't as sharp as he had been and racked up 107 pitches in 5.1 innings of work, but he only surrendered two runs, one of which was unearned, and when Luke Heyman homered in the fifth inning to tie the game at two it was anyone's series to win.

Ryan Slater collected two outs before Neely came out to pitch two scoreless innings.

Cue Shelnut to provide the final theatrics.

But with three outs to go, Sullivan inserted Luke McNeillie after saying after the game that Neely's bicep was bothering him.

McNeillie was last seen giving up five runs to UCF in one inning and two runs in two innings of work to St. Mary's, but entered into the biggest spot of his young career to shut the door on the Aggies and bring home the win for the Gators.

What's Next?

Florida needed this series win to prove it still belonged among the national elite. The lack of a second reliable starting pitcher is still a concern for this squad, but Neely picking up a nine-out save on Friday and the bullpen getting 11 outs on Sunday was a big step forward in coming up with pathways Florida can win.

The Gators had their lowest offensive output of the season on Sunday and were still able to knock off the fourth-ranked team in the country.

Up next is a midweek game against Jacksonville and another chance for someone to take the reigns out of the bullpen. After that is a World Series Finals rematch with LSU in Baton Rouge over the weekend.