Florida Gators baseball survives Oral Roberts rally, advances to semifinals of College World Series

By OnlyGators.com Staff
June 18, 2023
Florida Gators baseball survives Oral Roberts rally, advances to semifinals of College World Series

Image Credit: UAA

Just the third four seed to advance out of regional play since 1999, the Oral Roberts Golden Eagles have been the Cinderella story of the 2023 NCAA Tournament. The No. 2 Florida Gators have been quite the opposite, and on Sunday night, the wicked stepmother put a crack in the glass slipper.

On the back of three home runs and another superb performance from junior right-handed pitcher Hurston Waldrep, Florida avoided being the latest upset victim of Oral Roberts with a 5-4 win to advance to the semifinals of the 2023 College World Series.

Waldrep (6.0 IP, 7 H, ER, 3 BB, 12 K) was again phenomenal for the Gators. In 21 innings across three starts this tournament, he has now allowed just two earned runs with seven walks and 37 strikeouts.

Florida led 5-1 when he left the game on the back of a two-run homers from sophomore right fielder Ty Evans (second) and freshman designated hitter Luke Heyman (fourth); junior shortstop Josh Rivera set the table for Heyman with a solo shot earlier in the inning.

Evans’ opposite-field blast set a new single-season home run record for the Gators; Rivera and Heyman ballooned the team total to 135 on the campaign.

Redshirt sophomore RHP Ryan Slater was unable to maintain Florida’s lead in the seventh, though he was also a victim of circumstance as a would-be double instead became an inside-the-park home run, plating two runs in the seventh to cut the Gators’ advantage to 5-3.

Oral Roberts loaded the bases twice in the final few innings, including the game’s last frame after freshman LHP Cade Fisher gave up two hits and a walk. However, after allowing a runner to score on a fielder’s choice to shortstop, Florida’s defense stepped up to get the game’s final out.

The Gators will next play Wednesday against either TCU or ORU, which will meet in a loser’s bracket elimination game Tuesday. Florida is seeking a return to the CWS Championship Series for the first time since 2017 when the program claimed its lone national championship.

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