WHAT HAPPENED: The Gators completed their long road out of the losers’ bracket in the Gainesville Regional with a third straight win, beating Texas Tech 6-0 Monday afternoon at Condron Ballpark. Florida overcame a loss in one of its first two games of a regional to claim the regional title for the first time since 1998. To do so, Florida beat Connecticut and Texas Tech on Sunday, then beat the Red Raiders again on Monday. The Gators moved to a Super Regional for the first time since 2018.
GAME OF THE GAME: It would be easy to say that Wyatt Langford’s burnt home run in the top of the second was the Gators’ first run of the game. It was one more than Texas Tech scored. But Langford’s most memorable contribution Monday was when he stole two bases on a play in the fifth. After hitting an error from Texas Tech shortstop Will Burns, the Red Raiders moved right to hit southpaw Jac Caglianone. Langford took off and stole second, and with third baseman Kevin Bazzell taking the pitch from catcher Dylan Maxcey, Langford beat Bazzell on a run to third for an extra stolen base. He scored on Josh Rivera’s single to put UF ahead 4-0.
AMAZING STATS: Gators catcher BT Riopelle was 0 for 15 with eight strikeouts in the Gainesville Regional until he announced his appearance in Monday’s championship game with two two-run homers.
IN HONOR: The Gators had a 1-0 lead late in the fourth when Rivera led off with a single against new Texas Tech pitcher Josh Sanders. Riopelle threw the first pitch he saw from Sanders out of the stadium for a two-run homer and a 3-0 lead for the Gators. Riopelle delivered again in the fifth, hitting another two-run homer that gave the Gators a 6-0 lead and sent the reported crowd of 5,881 at Condron Ballpark into a frenzy.
KEY MOMENT : How about when Gators coach Kevin O’Sullivan decided to start reliever Ryan Larson on Monday. Larson was excellent, throwing five shutout innings for his team-high 10th victory. Larson took the mound on Monday with just two starts in his 23 appearances. Still, he pitched like he was part of the starting rotation all season. He limited the Red Raiders to three hits and two walks. He struck out one and hit a better in a 56-pitch effort before relievers Philip Abner and Brandon Neely closed out the win.
BY THE NUMBERS: 25 – Years since Florida won three straight games to win a regional championship. The Gators overcame a Game 2 loss to Baylor to beat Richmond, Wake Forest and Illinois in 1998; 6 – Home runs in four games for the Gators in the regional, including three on Monday.
PLAYER QUOTE: “I’m very excited for our team. I didn’t do anything. I just caught every pitch they threw at me. Their stuff is impeccable. What’s good for us is that we face a familiar opponent. We haven’t had success before. We’re a confident group and we’re ready to take advantage of it next week. – Gators receiver BT Riopelle on his team’s pitch
- Florida is now 123-83 all-time in the NCAA Tournament. The Gators are 86-51 in NCAA regional play. UF is hosting its 19th NCAA regional while making the 38th regional appearance in program history. Florida has hosted 12 of a possible 15 regional championships under the O’Sullivan era.
- Florida is now 3-3 all-time against Texas Tech, all of which came in the playoffs under the O’Sullivan era.
FOLLOWING: The Gators will host Southeastern Conference rival South Carolina in a best-of-three NCAA Super Regional starting at the end of the week. Hours and date TBA. This is the ninth NCAA super regional for the Gators in O’Sullivan’s 16 seasons.