‘Canes unable to slow Caglianone and the Gators, drop final game of series 8-4

credit Jason Hill/ Senior catcher Jack Scanlon recieves a pitch in Miami's win against Florida at Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field on Saturday, March 2, 2024. Photo credit: Jason Hill

In the rubber match game between Miami and No. 4 Florida, 2024 Preseason Two-Way Player of the Year Jac Caglianone showed why he deserved the award.

While pitching six scoreless innings, the projected top-10 draft pick stunned the fans at Mark Light Field, hitting his fourth home run of the year to clinch the series victory against the Hurricanes, 8-4.

In the top of the fifth inning, Caglianone took Herick Hernandez’s hanging off-speed pitch for a ride, clobbering it off the parking garage in right field. Caglianone’s 408-foot moonshot gave himself some insurance runs, as he also took the bump for the Gators.

On the mound, he was stellar, pitching the best game of his season. Caglianone fanned a career-high 11 UM batters, allowing just three hits and two walks in six innings of work. He also tallied three hits of his own, including his second home run of the series.

“[Caglianone] was as advertised,” Miami head coach J.D. Arteaga said. “To pitch and hit, especially in the same game, that’s tough … He has a very bright future ahead of him.”

For a vast majority of the game, the Hurricanes had no answer for Caglianone and the UF pitching staff, getting shut out and mustering just three hits.

“Through seven innings we didn’t really come out and fight,” Miami captain Dorian Gonzalez Jr. said about the team’s offensive struggles. “Caglianone made great pitches all game, we didn’t stick to our approach, and we didn’t execute our game plan today.”

In the eighth, Arteaga brought on Gonzalez in place of Lorenzo Carrier in hopes of giving the team some much-needed momentum. With the bases loaded and two away, the junior infielder gave the Hurricanes life, smacking his third grand slam of the year over the fence in left-center field, cutting the deficit to three.

UM’s hope diminished quickly, as UF infielder Colby Shelton hit his second home run of the game over the center field wall off Miami’s Nick Robert, effectively putting the game to rest.

In both games of the series, the winning team scored in the opening frame. That trend continued in the rubber match game, where the Gators struck first.

After Hernandez retired the first two batters with little effort, shortstop Antonio Jimenez misplayed what should have been a routine ground out. Jimenez’s error proved costly, as the following batter, Shelton, powered Hernandez’s fastball over the left field wall, allowing UF to jump out to an early 2-0 lead.

Despite striking out nine batters, the lefty Hernandez struggled against the sheer power of the Florida offense, surrendering four home runs. The Miami-Dade transfer finished his outing by giving up five runs on six hits in five innings of work.

Hernandez’s streak of allowing zero earned runs came to an end on Sunday as well, ending at 15 consecutive innings. In the fourth, UF infielder Ty Evans sent his third home run of the season deep into left-center field. The next batter, Tyler Shelnut, followed his teammate up with a bomb over the left-field wall.

Shelnut admired his fourth home run of the season, carrying his bat to first base, flipping it and then entering his home-run trot. To the umpires, that was too much, and Shelnut was tossed upon crossing home plate.

With the loss to the Gators, Miami has now dropped 20 of their last 28 games against their in-state rival, dating back to 2015. The Hurricanes, however, continue to lead the all-time series 131-129-1.

Miami looks to return to the win column on Wednesday, March 6, when it takes on the Stonehill Skyhawks under the lights at Mark Light Field. UM midweek starter Ben Chestnutt will toe the slab in Coral Gables. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m.