Florida Gators baseball rallies from three runs down, walks off vs. Virginia to open College World Series

By OnlyGators.com Staff
June 17, 2023
Florida Gators baseball rallies from three runs down, walks off vs. Virginia to open College World Series

Image Credit: NCAA

The Florida Gators’ prospects of winning the 2023 College World Series were dire. With only 10% of eventual champions having lost their opening game in the history of the event, Florida trailing 5-2 entering the eighth inning appeared to be a death sentence for their title chances. Until everything changed.

The Gators on Friday night in Omaha, Nebraska, hit three home runs in the final two innings — after making big-time contact all game only to see balls fall at the warning track — before walking off with a sacrifice fly to edge the Hoos 6-5 and continue into the winner’s bracket of the CWS.

Though Florida dominated the first six innings with top-tier pitching and defense, it only held a 1-0 lead as the top of its order struggled to make contact. That spelled trouble as Virginia finally got to junior right-handed pitcher Brandon Sporat’s fastball, tagging him for three earned runs as part of a four-run frame in which it crossed the plate three times with two outs.

The Gators got a run back in the bottom of the seventh before senior catcher BT Riopelle continued his insane stretch of moon shots with a solo home run the next inning. Florida cut its deficit to a single run opening the door for a comeback only to allow a run-scoring triple to UVA in the top of the ninth.

Facing entry into the loser’s bracket and a near-impossible road to the championship, the Gators rallied. Sophomore right fielder Ty Evans and junior centerfielder Wyatt Langford hit solo homers, Langford’s flying an insane 456 feet, with an out between them to tie the game.

Sophomore first baseman Jac Caglianone tagged a one-out single to right center with a junior shortstop Josh Rivera and Riopelle getting hit by a pitch to load the bases for freshman Luke Heyman. One swing later and Caglianone was on his way home on a walk-off sacrifice fly.

Moving into the winner’s bracket, Florida will face Cinderella story Oral Roberts on Sunday at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN. That result will lead to a game on either Monday or Tuesday depending on the outcome.

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