After being the hero for Florida baseball during the SEC Tournament, BT Riopelle had been hitless through the first four games of the NCAA Tournament.
But not wanting his college career to end on a Monday afternoon in Gainesville, Riopelle led the charge that allowed the Gators to cruise past Texas Tech 6-0 and set up a Super Regional showdown with South Carolina.
Florida Baseball: The long way around
Teams that start the Regional round 2-0 go on to advance to Super Regionals 81% of the time, so after losing to Texas Tech on Saturday, the odds were stacked against the Gators. In fact, Florida had not advanced to Super Regionals when not starting 2-0 since 2003.
Like last year, Florida battled back on Sunday by winning both games to set up a winner take all Monday afternoon game.
Unlike last year, the rain held off, the offense showed up, and the bullpen held.
Ryan Slater took to the mound to start and delivered five scoreless innings on just 56 pitches.
Wyatt Langford got the offense started for Florida with a solo home run in the third inning, and from there, it was the BT Riopelle show.
It is well known that Riopelle does not intend to pursue professional baseball after this season, and instead, he plans to enter the financial sector for work. He wasn’t ready for that desk job just yet.
Riopelle launched a two-run home run in the fourth inning to put the Gators up 3-0.
Even with Texas Tech batters held at bay, Florida baseball still needed one more big inning to put the game out of reach. Enter Riopelle in the fifth inning.
After Langford went from first to third on a stolen base and was driven in by Josh Rivera, Riopelle stepped up to send another baseball over the right field fence to make it 6-0.
Philip Abner and Brandon Neely held the fort on the mound the rest of the way, and when the final out was recorded, it sent the Florida Gators to the Super Regional round for the first time since 2018.
Florida will host South Carolina this weekend, who swept the Gators earlier this season, with a trip to Omaha on the line.