The Gators pulled off a come from behind win over No.24 Alabama after catcher BT Riopelle blasted a walk-off three-run home run in the bottom of the 11th inning, ending the game with a final score of 7-6.
“I was just trying to get on base for my team,” Riopelle said on his homer. “I’m so proud of these guys, working hard all year for this. I’m just very blessed to wear this F. This was such a hard-fought game. This is just another one in the book. This is fantastic. This is what I came back for this year.”
Florida’s closer Brandon Neely allowed three runs in the top of the 11th following Tommy Seidl’s bases clearing double, giving the Crimson Tide a 6-3 lead with just three outs to go.
Wyatt Langford and Jac Caglianone started the bottom half of the 11th with base knocks before Josh Rivera brought home Langford on an RBI single to left field, cutting the Gators’ deficit to two.
Next up was BT Riopelle, who took a healthy hack at an 0-2 pitch, sending it 434 feet over the right center field wall, ending the game in dramatic fashion.
“Honesty, in that situation, you’re down three with three outs to go, you usually take a strike,” Head Coach Kevin O’Sullivan said on the comeback. “This felt like, with our middle-of-the-order guys coming up, the worst thing that could happen is we build some momentum going into tomorrow offensively. You’re down three and they have been throwing strikes all year for the most part. It turned out that we strung some hits together. We do feel like every time we flip the lineup over that we do have a chance to put some runs on the board.”
The Gators scored four runs on four batters without recording a single out in the bottom of the 11th frame. Florida becomes the first program in SEC Tournament history to overcome a three-run deficit in extra innings.
Riopelle’s long ball marks the third walk-off of the 2023 season and the first walk-off home run since Sterlin Thompson accomplished the feat vs. Florida State on May 17, 2022.
Josh Rivera tagged his 15th home run of the season in first inning, tying Brady McConnell (2018) for the most homers hit in a single season by a UF shortstop. Rivera and Cade Kurland are both tied for the most home runs hit by Gators’ middle infielders in a single season with 15.
The Gators are now 29-7 in the series under O’Sullivan featuring a 5-1 mark in Hoover. Florida has won 16 of their last 18 meetings against Alabama.
The Gators (43-13) face the winner of Wednesday’s late game between Auburn and Vanderbilt on Thursday night, which is currently underway in Hoover.