Kevin O’Sullivan made the point this week that the Super Regional matchup for Florida baseball wasn’t about getting revenge against South Carolina after being swept earlier this season, but it was about simply getting to Omaha for the College World Series.
And while there is a hint of truth to that, there had to be catharsis for starting pitcher Hurston Waldrep to carry the Gators to Omaha after getting shelled by South Carolina earlier this season.
Florida Baseball: Everybody Hurst
Back on April 21, Waldrep took to the mound for Florida, and the Gamecocks jumped over him immediately. Cole Messina hit a two-run home run in the first inning, and Ethan Petry hit a three-run home run during the second inning. He settled down after that, but the damage was done, and Florida lost 5-2.
Yesterday, Waldrep took to the mound with the goal of ending South Carolina’s season.
Eight innings, three hits, two walks, and zero runs later, mission accomplished.
And Florida baseball needed him to be sharp because South Carolina did a good job at keeping the Gator bats in check. Cade Kurland, Wyatt Langford, and Jac Caglianone combined for just one hit and two walks over 13 official at-bats.
Florida’s runs came off a two-run double from Colby Halter, a Josh Rivera RBI single, and a Halter sac fly.
But that’s all that was needed given what Waldrep was dealing. If we are being fair, the strike zone from home plate umpire Greg Street was rather generous throughout the entire game, but it also went both ways.
And regardless of where the strike zone was, South Carolina never got a solid barrel to the ball with any consistency to make one think they were ever going to mount a rally.
The Gators will move on the College World Series in Omaha, NE for the first time since 2018 and will forever have the performance of Waldrep to thank.