Photo courtesy of @GatorsBB via Twitter.

Gator Baseball Wins Super Regional; Heads to College World Series

The Florida Gator baseball team swept South Carolina with two consecutive victories in the Gainesville Super Regional to punch their ticket to college baseball’s biggest dance – Omaha. The Gators are headed to the College World Series for the 13th time and for the first time since 2018.

Cheesin’ Big

Florida third baseman Colby Halter was crucial for the Gators on Saturday. He opened the scoring for Florida with a two-out, two-RBI double, giving Florida a 2-0 lead in the top of the second.

Gator shortstop Josh Rivera would tack on an RBI single to extend Florida’s advantage to 3-0 and give the Gators insurance in the top of the fifth. Rivera has continued to show up for the Gators in every game this season and on both sides of the ball. In the third, Rivera would make a diving grab to force an out at second in what could have been a double play.

Then in the top of the eighth, a Halter RBI sacrifice fly would finish off the scoring for the night. Florida defeated South Carolina in a 4-0 shutout to be crowned Super Regional Champions.

Waldrep Deals

Gator starting pitcher Hurston Waldrep was nothing short of sensational on Saturday, dominating the game from start to finish. In his last home start with the Gators, he pitched a career-high eight innings, striking out 13 Gamecocks. Waldrep, a junior who transferred to UF from Southern Mississippi, allowed only three hits before closer Brandon Neely would enter the game to record the last three outs.

“This was the most awesome thing I could ever dream of,” Waldrep said in Saturday’s postgame press conference. “This crowd, this team, this is amazing. This is what you play college baseball for. This is why you come to this level.”

Additionally, Waldrep has recorded 25 strikeouts in 15 innings in two NCAA Tournament starts. He struck out nine of the final 14 Gamecocks he faced before leaving the mound to an enormous standing ovation that he says left him full of adrenaline.

“It was awesome,” Gator head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said of Waldrep’s outing. “It’s really hard. The last game to get to Omaha is extremely stressful because it’s right there. The goal is right in front of you. But, he was outstanding. I mean his line and the performance speaks for itself. Really pleased with Brandon to be able to come in and get the last three outs. He’s been extremely selfless this entire year. Taken on a role after starting last year and now he’s taken to the closer role.”

Record Crowds at Condron

For the second consecutive day, Condron Family Ballpark saw a record-breaking crowd of 8,851 fans. The Gators saw the two largest on-campus college baseball crowds in the state of Florida in the two Super Regional games.

Eyes on Omaha

The Gators advance to the College World Series and will first take on the winner of the Virginia-Duke Super Regional.

“There’s a lot of emotions right now,” O’Sullivan said of winning the Super Regional. “Starting behind the plate with BT and Josh and where Wyatt started. Brandon where he was and Colby coming up with a big at-bat and driving the first two runs in. I hate naming names because you start leaving people out, but everyone is deserving. I’m just happy for everyone to be honest with you. It’s a special group.  We’ve been resilient the entire year. We won the regular season with Arkansas, which is not easy to do. Now, we’re in position to go to the World Series. Just a great group effort we’re excited for the opportunity.”

About Ellie Shreve

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

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