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Florida comes from behind to beat Virginia 6-5 in the College World Series

CWS Virginia Florida
Posted at 10:36 PM, Jun 16, 2023

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Jac Caglianone scored the winning run on Luke Heyman's sacrifice fly in the bottom of the ninth inning after Ty Evans and Wyatt Langford homered to tie it, and Florida rallied to beat Virginia 6-5 in the College World Series on Friday night.

The Gators' 21st come-from-behind win of the season, and fourth walk-off, sends them to a Sunday night game against Oral Roberts for control of their bracket. Virginia, which lost for the first time in 94 games when leading after eight innings, will play TCU in an elimination game in the afternoon.

Virginia (50-14) scored four times in the seventh to take a three-run lead in front of a crowd of nearly 25,000 that included Pro Football Hall of Famer Peyton Manning.

The Gators (51-15) got one back in the bottom of the seventh and another in the eighth on BT Riopelle's homer. Harrison Didawick's RBI triple put the Cavaliers up two runs in the ninth before Florida turned on the power against reliever Jake Berry (0-5) in the bottom half.

“It’s kind of the makeup of our team,” Langford said. “We’ve proved it many times throughout the year that we’re able to come back in these games and we’re never out of a baseball game.”

Evans and Langford homered to tie it at 5, with Langford’s traveling 456 feet onto the walkway behind left field. Then, the Gators loaded the bases on a single, walk and hit batter.

“I have zero regret,” Virginia coach Brian O'Connor said. “Jake Berry has done the job for this team all year long. He’s been tremendous when we’ve had a lead and closed games out for us. They did a terrific job against him and got his pitch count up and executed very, very well.”

Jay Woolfolk took over for Berry, and Heyman sent a fly deep enough to center to allow Caglianone to score easily from third.

“The home run by Ty, I think that really gave the dugout a lot of momentum,” Gators coach Kevin O'Sullivan said. “We were down to one out and still down a run. But we knew we had Wyatt and Cags and the rest of the guys coming up behind them.”

Evans hadn't played since June 4 and entered Friday's game in the seventh as a pinch hitter.

“You have to have special performances from people you don’t expect,” O'Sullivan said. “It happens all the time in any sport. You’re not always going to get the best performances from your best players, so other people have to pick them up. It just worked out the way it did tonight.”

Brandon Neely (1-2) pitched 2 1/3 innings of relief for the win.

Florida starter Brandon Sproat worked six shutout innings against a Virginia offense that arrived in Omaha with the nation’s highest batting average (.335) and averaging 9.1 runs per game.

Anthony Stephens’ RBI groundout started a four-run seventh for the Cavaliers and ended Florida’s streak of 15 consecutive shutout innings. Griff O’Ferrall delivered the tie-breaking double into the left-field corner off reliever Cade Fisher with two outs and Ethan O’Donnell followed with an RBI single.

Nick Parker limited Florida to one run on four hits and three walks in six innings. He held the top four batters in the order hitless, including national home run leader Caglianone.

“This team has bounced back all year long,” O'Ferrall said. “We’re not going to go down without a fight. I think getting back tomorrow in practice and getting our plan ready for Sunday, I think we’ll be good to go.”

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