Florida Gators baseball makes history with 24 runs, six homers to extend College World Series final

By OnlyGators.com Staff
June 25, 2023
Florida Gators baseball makes history with 24 runs, six homers to extend College World Series final

Image Credit: UAA

Struggles from the top of the Florida Gators’ order came to an end in a significant fashion Sunday, but it was two timely home runs from sophomore right fielder Ty Evans that sent No. 2 Florida Gators baseball to a rubber match in the 2023 College World Series Championship Series following a dominant 24-4 win over the No. 5 LSU Tigers. Not only that, UF made plenty of history along the way with its 24 runs and 23 hits both setting all-time records at the CWS and its 54th win of the campaign marking a single-season program record.

Evans, the eight-hole hitter who has been one of Florida’s best performers at this year’s CWS, jacked a solo homer down the left field line to tie the game 1-1 in the top of the second. The next inning, after the Gators clawed back to again tie the game 3-3, Evans came through again with a grand slam to push UF into a lead it would not relinquish for the remainder of the contest.

Evans’ two blasts were part of a CWS-record six home runs jacked by Florida. The Gators’ updated total of 14 homers in this CWS are the most ever for a single team, six more than a foursome of other programs have hit previously (eight).

Junior right-handed pitcher Hurston Waldrep, who struck out 37 batters with just seven walks through his first three 2023 NCAA Tournament starts, was bounced early Sunday. Waldrep (2.1 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 6 BB, 2 K, WP, 2 HBP) provided a polar opposite performance as he got tagged early and often by the Tigers.

The deficit in which UF found itself was erased in the third thanks to a rally of singles with sophomore first baseman Jac Caglianone and junior shortstop Josh Rivera both plating runs before Evans’ grand slam broke open the game.

Caglianone (3/6, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 2 R) went on to snap his eight-game streak without a homer by sending a solo shot out in the sixth. He followed with a two-run bomb in the eighth to set the single-season BBCOR home run record with his 33rd jack of the season.

Junior centerfielder Wyatt Langford immediately preceded Caglianone with a three-run shot in the sixth. Langford (5/5, HR, 6 RBI, 4 R, BB) ultimately fell a triple shy of the cycle; however, he put together a simply incredible performance not only at the plate but defensively as well. In fact, Langford and Cagliaone plated runs consecutively in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings.

Not to be left out, senior catcher BT Riopelle homered in the ninth to start a five-run rally that gave Florida its record-setting total. Riopelle, who entered the SEC Tournament with 10 home runs on the year, hit his ninth bomb of the postseason, sixth in the last eight NCAA Tournament games, third of the CWS and second in as many championship series games.

Struggles at the top of the Gators’ order played a significant role in their run-scoring problems entering Sunday. Hitting just 12 for 69 with 8 RBI in the first four CWS games, the 1-4 hitters more than doubled their production Sunday alone hitting 12 of 20 with 12 RBI.

LSU committed five errors, made numerous other mistakes defensively and continued to struggle with runners on base. The Tigers left 13 on board Sunday, increasing their total to 30 squandered base runners through two games. Waldrep got out of a bases loaded jam before departing, and redshirt sophomore RHP Blake Pernell (1.2 IP, 2 BB) did the same in relief the next inning.

Just as impressive as Florida’s offense was a relief appearance from redshirt sophomore RHP Nick Ficarrotta, who entered in the fifth and threw four scoreless innings before giving up a late run. Ficarrotta (5.0 IP, 3 H, ER, 2 K) was tremendous on his own, but due to his performance, UF was able to keep multiple arms fresh for the rubber match.

Caglianone (7-3, 3.68 ERA) is expected to throw for the Gators in Game 3 of the CWS Championship Series on Monday at 7 p.m. ET. He was inconsistent making first start in three weeks on June 21, though perhaps the rust has been shaken off. The Tigers will attempt to make ace Paul Skenes, the presumptive No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 MLB Draft, available on three days’ rest after he last threw Thursday. Skenes (13-2, 1.69 ERA) tossed an eight-inning, two-hit shutout with nine strikeouts in that 11-inning semifinal game.

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