College baseball: Gators eliminate NC State

Published 6:08 pm Monday, June 17, 2024

By ERIC OLSON AP Sports Writer

OMAHA, Neb.  — Two-way star Jac Caglianone broke the Florida single-season home run record to give his school the lead an inning after he struggled on the mound and got pulled, and the Gators eliminated North Carolina State from the College World Series with a 5-4 victory Monday.

Florida (35-29) moved to another elimination game Tuesday against the loser of Monday night’s Texas A&M-Kentucky matchup.

NC State (38-23) went 0-2 in the CWS for the first time in four all-time appearances.

Caglianone, a projected top-five pick in next month’s amateur draft because of his bat, not his arm, labored through a 33-pitch first inning. The 6-foot-5, 250-pound lefty hit a batter and walked two to loaded the bases, gave up Brandon Butterworth’s RBI single and then got a strikeout and fly out to mitigate what could have been a big inning for NC State.

His fastball averaged 89.5 mph in the inning — it had never been below 92 mph in his career, according to ESPN — and he was shown rubbing his elbow in the dugout after the first inning. Coach Kevin O’Sullivan opted to lift him for Cade Fisher (4-3) but said during an in-game interview that Caglianone’s problem related to fatigue rather than an injury.

Caglianone stayed in the game as the designated hitter and atoned for what happened on the mound. NC State starter Dominic Fritton (3-7) struck him out on three pitches in the first inning, but in the second Caglianone drilled his low fastball over the right-center fence for a three-run homer and 4-1 lead.

The 404-foot low rider was his 34th homer of the season, breaking his school’s single-season record of 33 set last year, and moved him into a tie with Matt LaPorta (2004-07) for career homers at Florida with 74.

Logan Whitaker replaced Fritton to start the third and allowed two hits and a run and struck out 10 over seven innings.

The Wolfpack’s Alec Makarewicz and Gators’ Tyler Shelnut also homered, and NC State cut the lead to 5-4 in the fifth on Butterworth’s RBI double.

NC State had its leadoff man reach base in the sixth, seventh and eighth but couldn’t push the tying run across. Luke Nixon got caught stealing second in the sixth, and the Wolfpack left two runners on base in the seventh and stranded a man on third in the eighth when Brandon Neely ended both innings with strikeouts.

The Wolfpack, which was third in the nation with seven walk-off wins, had the top of the order up in the bottom of the ninth. Neely caught Eli Serrano III looking at strike three, Garrett Pennington struck out when he couldn’t check his swing on a pitch out of the zone, and Makarewicz lined out to left to end the game.