Michael Robertson isn’t exactly Florida baseball’s big-time run scorer. He has the least RBIs in UF’s starting order. The speedy redshirt freshman earns his keep by stealing bases and making plays in center field. But in the bottom of the ninth in Florida’s Saturday matchup versus Georgia, the game was on his shoulders.
With a tied ballgame at 1-1 and the winning run at third, Robertson just needed a little contact for a big play.
He got exactly what he and his team needed.
No. 3 Florida (29-7, 10-4 SEC) defeated Georgia (19-16, 4-10 SEC) 2-1 in a walk-off win that came down to the final frame. With the win, the Gators tied the weekend series at one game a piece.
“I was just trying to get the job done,” Robertson said. “My main goal was to put the ball in play, that was my approach and I put a good swing on it. Pretty much right off the bat I was in celebration mode.”
Junior right-handed pitcher Hurston Waldrep took the mound for the Gators. He opened the contest with a quick flyout to left field and a strikeout before walking Georgia freshman Charlie Condon. Condon hit three home runs and drove in five RBIs, leading the Bulldogs to victory in Friday’s series opener.
Waldrep was able to snag his second K of the inning to close the frame and strand Condon. The Gators went 1-2-3 in their opening frame of offense to keep it scoreless after the initial inning.
Despite Waldrep letting up his second walk with one out in the second inning, UF’s infield produced a double play to close the inning and strand another runner.
Florida reached its first base of the night after freshman infielder Cade Kurland was hit by the 2-2 pitch with two outs. Junior infielder Colby Halter walked to advance Kurland to scoring position. Georgia starting pitcher Charlie Goldstein loaded the bases with another walk against sophomore outfielder Ty Evans.
Robertson dug in at the plate with loaded bags. He struck out looking on a 0-2 pitch to strand the runners and close the second inning with no score.
Even without the cushion Waldrep continued to work. He struck out two more batters in the third to sit the side in order and rack up four Ks through three frames.
Jac Caglianone reached on an error in the bottom third, but the Gators couldn’t notch a hit to advance drive in any runs. The opening third ended with no hits or runs for either side.
Waldrep opened the middle third with more clean work. He notched three quick outs plus two more strikeouts to change sides in the fourth inning. The Gators got nothing going in the fourth either to keep it scoreless and hitless.
Georgia got its first hit in the top of the fifth inning after third baseman Parks Harber doubled to the right field gap. Evans was pulled for Matt Prevesk after he went down trying to pull in the hit. UGA advanced the runner to third on a ground out, then Waldrep walked his man to put runners on the corners with one out.
A sacrifice bunt from the Bulldogs put them on the board. Waldrep got the final out on his seventh K of the night with the Gators now trailing 1-0.
The Gators went 1-2-3 with strikeouts from Caglianone and leadoff hitter Wyatt Langford to close the fifth still down one run.
The ‘Dawgs kept things rolling with a pair of singles to lead off of the sixth inning. Condon stepped to the plate with a chance to plate some runs, but UGA’s slugger grounded into a double play to put two outs on the board and runner at third. The Gators secured the final out of the frame to get off the diamond without another Bulldogs’ run.
Florida’s bats woke up in the bottom sixth with a Josh Rivera leadoff double. Fifth-year catcher BT Riopelle followed it up with a stand-up double of his own to plate Rivera and tie the ballgame at 1-1.
Heyman stepped to the plate and reached first on a fielder’s choice to throw Riopelle out at third. The call was challenged but upheld to put one runner on with one out. Halter singled behind him to put two on with two outs. Prevesk took his first at-bat after replacing Evans in right field, but he struck out to close the sixth with the game tied at 1-1.
The Bulldogs went three up and down through the seventh. Waldrep picked up his eighth strikeout in one less inning to go with his fourth 1-2-3 inning of the night. Florida followed suit and went 1-2-3 to keep it tied after seven innings.
“I was just trying to set the tone from the start and carry it as far as I can go,” said Waldrep.
Florida head coach Kevin O’Sullivan called upon right-hander Ryan Slater to relieve Waldrep in the eighth. He sat the ‘Dawgs in order including a punchout to close the frame with the tie intact. The Gators went 1-2-3 for the second consecutive inning, making it a tie ballgame headed into the ninth inning.
“When we’ve had good teams we’ve had guys like that,” O’Sullivan said. “Who can play multiple roles and go multiple innings.”
Slater grabbed two outs to open the ninth before giving up a line drive double through the middle. The play at second was close but upheld as safe after a UF challenge. Despite the scare, Slater got the final out to put the ball in Florida’s court.
Kurland reached first on a leadoff walk to start the ninth for the Gators. Halter doubled to put the game-winning run at third.
Robertson stepped up and secured the Gators’ win.
Florida will go for the series win tomorrow against Georgia. First pitch is set for 1 p.m. and the game will stream on SEC Network+.