The Florida Gators had already stuck for one run in the bottom of the ninth inning on a leadoff homer by Ty Evans when Wyatt Langford dug into the batter’s box Friday evening.
Ahead in the count 1-0, Langford saw a change-up from UVA pitcher Jake Berry and absolutely crushed the ball to left and celebrated immediately as he began his trot around the bases after tying the game at 5.
Casual 456 feet nuke from Wyatt Langford to tie it pic.twitter.com/gxWRtPChC1— MLB Metrics (@MLBMetrics) June 17, 2023
Four batters later, Luke Heyman skied a pop-fly to center that allowed Jac Caglianone to score easily from third base to clinch a wild, walk-off win for Florida.
“After Ty’s home run, and even before that, we all knew we were going to win that game. It’s just a matter of doing my part,” said Langford of his approach at the plate in the ninth inning.
The Gators received a strong start from RHP Brandon Sproat who opened with six scoreless innings before allowing the first three hitters he faced in the seventh to reach (and eventually score).
Sproat was relieved by Cade Fisher after 109 pitches. Fisher immediately recorded the second out of the inning before a two-run double and single scored three more runs to put the Cavaliers ahead 4-1. Brandon Neely entered the game and closed the door on Virginia in the seventh.
Florida got one back in the bottom of the frame on an RBI groundout by Cade Kurland. But, the Gators left the bases loaded and it appeared they were headed towards defeat.
The Gators scratched back and made it a one run game in the eighth as C BT Riopelle went opposite field for his seventh homer in postseason play to make it 4-3.
In the top of the ninth, the ‘Hoos added an insurance run thanks to an RBI triple by Harrison Didawick.
All this to setup the dramatic finish.
“Virginia played us really good, didn’t give us anything,” head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said after the game, “[I’m] proud of these guys, the way they hung in there.”
Florida got on the scoreboard first with a one out, RBI single by Colby Halter that scored Riopelle in the second inning.
The Gators 1-4 hitters were a combined 0-13 with three walks prior to the ninth inning.
- W: Brandon Neely (1-2)
- L: Jake Berry (0-5)
- Riopelle: 2-3, HR, 2B, RBI, BB, 2 R
- Evans: 2-2, HR, 2B, RBI, R
- Sproat: 6.1 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 7 K, 3 BB
- Neely: 2.1 IP, H, ER, K, BB (Win)
Florida will face Oral Roberts in the winner’s bracket Sunday evening in Omaha. First pitch is scheduled for 7:00 PM ET. The game is scheduled to be broadcast live on ESPN.
The Golden Eagles came back with a four run ninth to defeat TCU 6-5 in the earlier game Friday.