GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The No. 5 Florida Gators took the series on Saturday night over the No. 5 Vanderbilt Commodores, 6-2.
Florida turned to Waldrep for his typical Saturday start but things didn’t go as planned. Waldrep made quick work of the Vandy lineup, retiring the side in order on just 10 pitches. Then the skies opened up and delayed the game for more than an hour. It spoiled what was, for at least an inning, shaping up as a good outing.
It did give the bullpen an opportunity.
“There’s a lot of stuff to gain from it. Ryan (Slater) came in and did a great job. He gave up a couple of hard contacts there in that last inning so we went to Philip (Abner) and he did his job,” Kevin O’Sullivan said. “(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.”
During the rain delay the question was posed (many times) if Waldrep would come back out. As the delay ran over an hour it was clear that he wouldn’t. Kevin O’Sullivan has made a career out of protecting pitchers’ arms. Waldrep went through his normal pregame routine. He got ready, threw his pregame warmup, and executed the first inning to near perfection.
There’s only so much a starting pitcher can do to stay warm during a delay before you begin to risk injury. Vanderbilt chose to send its starter, Devin Futrell, back out. He threw well, allowing just 1 run through four innings but fell apart in the fifth.
Waldrep has a $5 million dollar arm and that check will soon come in the form of the MLB Draft. If O’Sullivan would have sent him back out and he injured himself, it’s something the coach couldn’t stomach.
O’Sullivan was tempted to start Waldrep on Sunday, going as far as to confirm that in his postgame press conference. He changed course, deciding to go with Jac Caglianone instead of sending Waldrep out.
It’s a big game and there is a huge opportunity.
Gators tied for first in the East, with a shot at the SEC
With the back-to-back wins this weekend, the Gators have pulled even with Vanderbilt in the SEC East. You don’t get a title for winning the division. But a win tomorrow, coupled with losses from Arkansas (series tied 1-1 with South Carolina) and LSU (series tied 1-1 with Mississippi State) would put Florida in sole possession of first place in the SEC with three games left (on the road at Kentucky).
Quotes from Saturday
On the game…
“There’s a lot of stuff to gain from it. Ryan (Slater) came in and did a great job. 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.”
On getting Rivera back…
“I’m sure (he did). It was weird writing the lineup up (on Friday) without him right there in the middle. 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.”
On Fabian playing well…
“He had a couple more hits again and played a really good third base. It’s a really good story. I’m really happy for him, too. Cade Kurland had another really good night at the plate. He had another two hits, hit the home run to left field, and got us on the board against a really good (pitcher).”
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