WHAT HAPPENED: Florida is headed to the College World Series for the first time since 2018. The Gators capped their sweep of Southeastern Conference rival South Carolina with a 4-0 victory in the best-of-three Gainesville Super Regional at Condron Ballpark on Saturday afternoon. Florida won Game 1 on Friday night, 5-4. In Saturday's decisive win, third baseman Colby Halter contributed a two-run double and starter Hurston Waldrep was sensational following a 2-hour, 36-minute weather delay prior to the first pitch.
PLAY OF THE GAME: In a game dominated by Waldrep, it was Halter's two-out double that did the damage offensively. Halter's drive down the right-field line off Gamecocks starter Jack Mahoney scored BT Riopelle and Luke Heyman. In the previous at-bat, Tyler Shelnut faced a shift left with both South Carolina shortstop Braylen Wimmer and second baseman Michael Braswell anchored on the left side of the infield. Braswell fielded what normally would have been a double-play grounder, but with no one covering second, he threw out Shelnut at first but Riopelle and Heyman advanced. That set up Halter for his biggest hit of the season.
STAGGERING STAT: Waldrep has 25 strikeouts in 15 innings in two NCAA Tournament starts. He struck out nine of the final 14 batters he faced before exiting to a standing ovation with one on, nobody out in the bottom of the ninth.
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Who else? Waldrep, the junior right-hander from Thomasville, Ga.. He transferred to UF in the offseason from Southern Mississippi and was sensational Saturday. Waldrep pitched a career-high eight innings and struck out 13 Gamecocks. Waldrep allowed only three hits before closer Brandon Neely came in to record the final three outs.
KEY MOMENT: As good as Waldrep was, the Gators added insurance runs in the fifth inning on Josh Rivera's RBI single and in the eighth on Halter's RBI sacrifice fly. Halter finished 1-for-2 with three RBI.
HE SAID IT: "This was the most awesome thing I could ever dream of. This crowd, this team, this is amazing. This is what you play college baseball for. This is why you come to this level." - Gators starter Hurson Waldrep following Saturday's outing
BY THE NUMBERS: 8,851 - Announced crowd at Condron Ballpark on Saturday, the second consecutive day UF had the largest on-campus crowd in state college baseball history; 7,673 - Announced crowd on Wednesday at loanDepot Park in Miami for the Marlins-Royals game; 13 - College World Series berths for the Gators in program history.
UP NEXT: The Gators advance to the College World Series, where they will open against the winner of the Virginia-Duke Super Regional when they get to Omaha, Neb. The Virginia-Duke series is tied at one game apiece.