Gainesville has never seen a power hitter like Jac Caglianone, and the Florida first baseman etched his name into the program record books with his 26th home run of the season during a 7-5 win over Florida State on Tuesday night.
Caglianone’s line drive home run might have only traveled some 325 feet, but it counts the same as his 480-foot tank against Missouri over the weekend. He ties the school record held by Matt LaPorta and teammate Wyatt Langford. Caglianone should set the new mark over the weekend against Texas A&M and could pass the 30-homer threshold by the season’s end if he keeps on his current pace of one every eight plate appearances.
The Gators have three series left for Caglianone to do some damage in the regular season, and he’ll likely add to his home run total throughout the SEC and NCAA tournaments.
Caglianone’s home run was a part of back-to-back jacks to lead off the top of the fifth inning and put the Gators out in front, 7-5. Wyatt Langford hit the first homer of the inning, and that score held for the rest of the night.
Most of the scoring came in the first inning of the game. Florida State once again threw Ben Barrett, and Florida went with Clete Hartzog, who has worked exclusively out of the bullpen this season. Neither made it out of the first, giving up at least four runs each, with Hartzog failing to record an out.
Nick Ficarrotta took over and pitched three scoreless innings in relief of Hartzog, and Blake Purnell took over in the fourth. Purnell has struggled this season. He fell out of the weekend bullpen rotation after leading the team in appearances a year ago, but Tuesday was a career night for the St. Thomas Aquinas alumnus.
Purnell struck out eight over five innings, setting new career highs in both categories. If the Gators can get Purnell back for an inning or two every weekend, a ton of pressure will be taken off some other arms in the ‘pen and the starters.
— Florida Gators Baseball (@GatorsBB) May 3, 2023
An extra bullpen arm or two can make the difference deep in a tournament, so it’s very encouraging to see Purnell return to form. Phillip Abner closed out the game for save No. 2 on the year as Brandon Neely rested up for the upcoming series against Texas A&M.
Florida is at College Station for a three-game series starting on Friday.