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Gators take down Oral Roberts 5-4 in College World Series

Florida hits record-breaking 133rd home run of season
Florida Gators pitcher Hurston Waldrep throws in first inning against Oral Roberts Golden Eagles in College World Series, June 18, 2023
Posted at 11:07 PM, Jun 18, 2023
and last updated 2023-06-18 23:07:12-04

OMAHA, Neb. — Hurston Waldrep struck out 12 in six innings, and Florida homered three times to break its single-season record in a 5-4 victory over Oral Roberts in the College World Series on Sunday night.

Florida took control of Bracket 1 — but not before Matt Hogan's inside-the-park home run pulled ORU within two runs and having to escape a bases-loaded situation in the eighth when its closer was forced out of the game because of a mound-visit rules violation and another threat in the ninth.

The Gators (52-15) will play Wednesday against the winner of the Tuesday elimination game between ORU and TCU. Florida would have two chances, if needed, to get the one win that would send it to the best-of-three finals beginning Saturday.

The Summit League's Golden Eagles (52-13), the first No. 4 regional seed since 2012 to play in the CWS, are known to punch above their weight, but they looked outclassed early against the No. 2 national seed Gators.

That changed in the seventh when Hogan drove Ryan Slater's pitch off the left-field wall. Center fielder Wyatt Langford had trouble picking up the ball off the carom, and by the time he did Hogan was heading for third and not slowing down. Shortstop Josh Rivera took the cutoff and threw home, but Hogan got in easily with a head-first slide.

Oral Roberts Golden Eagles outfielder Matt Hogan hits two-run, inside-the-park home run against Florida Gators in seventh inning of College World Series, June 18, 2023
Oral Roberts outfielder Matt Hogan hits a two-run, inside-the-park home run against Florida in the seventh inning at the College World Series, Sunday, June 18, 2023, in Omaha, Neb.

The Eagles loaded the bases with two outs in the eighth against Brandon Neely. When Florida coach Kevin O'Sullivan came out to talk to his closer, the Gators were charged with their seventh mound visit, one over the limit. Under the rule, O'Sullivan had to replace Neely. Cade Fisher came on and got Justin Quinn to fly out.

Florida held on in the ninth after ORU scored on a groundout and had runners on the corners with two outs. Jacob Godman flew out to end the game, and the Gators came pouring out of their dugout to celebrate.

Waldrep (10-3) allowed one run in his six innings despite scattering seven hits and walking three. ORU had at least one man reach base against Waldrep each inning, but the projected first-round pick came up with the big pitch when he needed it most and finished with double-digit strikeouts for a third straight outing.

ORU starter Harley Gollert (10-2) went into the game off his two worst outings of the season, and things didn't get better. The left-hander pitched into the third and gave up homers to Ty Evans, Rivera and Luke Heyman and left with his team down 5-1.

Florida Gators outfielder Ty Evans celebrates home run in second inning against Oral Roberts Golden Eagles in College World Series, June 18, 2023
Florida outfielder Ty Evans (2) celebrates after his home run in the second inning against Oral Roberts at the College World Series, Sunday, June 18, 2023, in Omaha, Neb.

Evans' homer was the Gators' 133rd of the season, breaking the record of 132 by the 1998 team.

Gollert has surrendered seven homers over three appearances totaling 8 1/3 innings in the NCAA tournament.