Photo courtesy of @GatorsBB via Twitter.

No. 2 Florida Baseball Crowned Regional Champions

The No. 2 Florida Gators faced off with Texas Tech in a winner-take-all Gainesville Regional finale on Monday afternoon. The Orange & Blue came out victorious in a 6-0 shutout over the Red Raiders, advancing the Gators to their first super regional since 2018.

The Gators opened Regional play by defeating Florida A&M in their first contest. However, Florida then fell to Texas Tech in its next game. The Gators climbed back with a double header on Sunday, first defeating No. 10 UConn and later that night Texas Tech. The Gators took the long way around, but finished the job with Monday’s third consecutive do-or-die victory.

When There’s a Wyatt, There’s a Way

The Gators broke open the scoring in the bottom of the third when Wyatt Langford hit his 18th home run of the season deep to left. However, the biggest highlight of the game came when Langford made a heads up play, leaving every fan in Condron Family Ballpark in awe. Langford, who reached on an error to leadoff the fifth, made a double steal play. He stole second and swiped third as Texas Tech had nobody covering third base.

Rivera would then follow with a single to center, scoring Langford. The Gators gained a 4-0 lead in the bottom of the fifth.

Big Time Riopelle

BT does indeed stand for “Big Time.”

BT Riopelle blew a kiss to the sky, pumped his fists, gave his iconic salute and embraced his teammates at home plate. These celebrations sent Condron Family Ballpark into a frenzy not just once, but twice. Riopelle was hot at the plate on Monday after having been 0-for-15 with eight strikeouts in the Gainesville Regional.

To open the second, Rivera hit a leadoff single against Texas Tech relief pitcher Josh Sanders. Then, Riopelle stepped up to the plate and homered on the first pitch from Sanders. The two-run homer gave Florida a 3-0 advantage. Riopelle ripped another two-run homer in the fifth, bringing the Gators to a 6-0 lead.

Strong Start for Slater

Florida right-handed pitcher Ryan Slater got the nod for the Gators on Monday. Slater had an excellent outing, pitching five shutout innings in what was just his third career start among 23 appearances.

“It started with the starting pitching,” O’Sullivan said in the postgame press conference. “The whole key was to get five from Ryan. I think for us to get over the hump, for this program to get back to this point, it’s important. They were ready to go.”

Slater would leave the mound to a standing ovation and the Gators would turn to relievers Philip Abner and Brandon Neely to close out the victory.

Up Next

The Gators will next host SEC rival South Carolina in a best-of-three NCAA Super Regional later in the week, with finalized times and dates to be announced. Florida enters its ninth Super Regional during O’Sullivan’s 16 seasons with the Gators.

Fan support will be needed now more than ever, as the Gators take on the red-hot Gamecocks. Despite the Regional Championship taking place on a Monday at noon, the ballpark was rocking from the first pitch to the last out. Monday’s contest saw an official attendance of  5,881 fans. Riopelle shared how the crowds during the Gainesville Regional were the best he’s ever seen at Florida.

About Ellie Shreve

Ellie is a third-year sports and media journalism major at the University of Florida.

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