WATCH: BT Riopelle fuels two Florida baseball wins with walk-off three-run home run, grand slam

By Staff
May 25, 2023
WATCH: BT Riopelle fuels two Florida baseball wins with walk-off three-run home run, grand slam

Image Credit: UAA

Have a week, BT Riopelle. The Florida Gators’ senior catcher has been unconscious at the plate over the last two days at the 2023 SEC Tournament with a pair of incredibly clutch home runs sending the top seed in the event to consecutive victories.

Riopelle saved No. 1 seed Florida from a near-loss in extra innings Wednesday night, jacking a three-run, walk-off homer in the bottom of the 11th to send the Gators over the No. 9 seed Alabama Crimson Tide with a 7-6 win. Florida had given up three runs in the top of the frame with its back against the wall when the lineup rallied in front of Riopelle, setting the stage for his heroic effort.

The victory marked the first time in SEC Tournament history that a team trailed by three or more runs in extra innings before rallying to win the game.

As if Riopelle had not filled up his cup enough Wednesday, he kept the party going Thursday night against the No. 4 seed Vanderbilt Commodores. The game was tied 1-1 in the bottom of the fourth when Riopelle put the Gators ahead with a solo home run. The ‘Dores immediately responded with a run in the top of the fifth with it looking like the teams would duel down the stretch while trying not to use too many relievers with plenty of tournament still to play.

Riopelle had other ideas. After Florida rallied in the bottom of the seventh, Riopelle stepped up with the bases loaded and jacked a grand slam to put the Gators ahead 6-2, an advantage they would not give up over the remainder of the contest.

Riopelle entered the SEC Tournament with 10 home runs on the season, increasing that total by 33% in just a two-game span.

“I’m just seeing the ball well. We’re seeing the ball well as a team right now,” he said after Thursday’s game. “… It’s a back-and-forth game between a pitcher and a hitter, and I ended up winning that one.”

Improving to 2-0 in the tournament, Florida advances to the single-elimination portion of the event where it will face either Vanderbilt or Alabama in a semifinal rematch on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. ET. The Gators entered as the top seed after emerging as 2023 SEC co-champions coming out of the regular season.

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