The Florida Gators came out on top in both of their elimination games on Sunday, forcing a critical regional final that will take place on Monday at 12:00 PM.
Hurston Waldrep was sensational in Florida’s third game of the Gainesville Regional, tossing a season high seven innings while allowing one run on four hits and two walks. Waldrep’s 12 punchouts brought his season total to 129. The outing was arguable Waldrep’s best on the season, likely earning himself a spot on the All-Regional Tournament Team.
“It was outstanding,” Head Coach Kevin O’Sullivan said on Waldrep’s performance. “We knew that this morning’s game was going to be really difficult. Just like last year against Central Michigan, when you get in the loser’s bracket, no one wants their season to end. He was outstanding. He wanted to go back out after 100 pitches and I said no that’s it, what do we have three games ahead of us. Somebody else will have to pick up the slack here, certainly (Nick Ficarrotta) did.”
RHP Nick Ficarrotta finished off the last two innings for the Gators, allowing one run on three hits while striking out five.
Florida cruised to an 8-2 victory behind dominant pitching and two long balls from Jac Caglianone, the Nations home run leader (31).
True freshman Cade Fisher took the mound to start a game for the second time this season, except this one was win or go home.
Fisher delivered on all accounts, earning the victory while allowing just one run and five hits in his seven innings pitched. The Georgia state record holder for career ERA (.71) pounded the strike zone on Sunday night, walking zero batters and working to a strike percentage of 71.
“My goal was to keep going,” Fisher said postgame. “I tried to get those last 6 outs… but Neely was able to come in and close the door for us. I was just trying to keep it going one inning at a time.”
Fisher’s six strikeouts brought his season total to 40 across 39.2 innings.
“I mean you really can’t ask for better,” outfielder Tyler Shelnut said on Fisher’s performance. “We knew going into that game that he was going to have to go deep, and the deeper he could go the better. Obviously, you know moving forward and I don’t think you can ask for much better than that. Eight innings and no runs, it’s unbelievable.”
Florida’s closer Brandon Neely was able to polish off the night game without allowing a run in his two innings pitched.
The Gators won the night game by a score of 7-1, with the bats coming alive in the second half of the contest.
THE IMPORTANCE OF TODAY
Not only did Florida give themselves a chance at advancing to the Super Regionals, but they did it without much wear and tear on their bullpen.
“We wouldn’t be in the position to have enough pitching for tomorrow if we didn’t those two starts from Hurston and from Cade,” O’Sullivan said after the night game. “We are in good shape for tomorrow.”
Head Coach Kevin O’Sullivan didn’t name a starter for Monday’s game but did say that they have several guys they can go to.
“We have options,” O’Sullivan said. “We’ve got a bunch of guys that have pitched in big-leverage situations that will be available tomorrow. It will be a collective group, but we feel good about the four or five guys that we have that can handle the moment.”
The Gators play Texas Tech in the regional final at noon eastern, with the winner advancing to the Super Regionals.