Florida Gators Walk Off Clemson Tigers, College World Series Bound (2024)

The Florida Gators punched their ticket to the College World Series on Sunday. The clinching game against the Clemson Tigers was just more of a rollercoaster than Florida originally hoped.

After multiple chances in extra innings, the Gators finally finished off the Tigers in 13 innings. Outfielder Michael Robertson recorded the game-winning two-RBI single to left-center field to secure an 11-10 victory.

MICHAEL ROBERTSON. THE CARDIAC KID. 🥶#GoGators pic.twitter.com/PjdCj6j3Cs

— Florida Gators Baseball (@GatorsBB) June 9, 2024

With this hit, Robertson added to his continuing collection of clutch plays for the Gators.

“Yeah. I mean, I just looking for something up in the zone, good pitch to hit," Robertson said. "I was able to put a good swing on it and I thought I got enough barrel for it to find a gap. And it did.

"But, you know, obviously none of that happens without the guys in front of me.

The Lead Up to the Final At-Bat

Florida’s two-way star showed out early on Sunday.

After throwing a scoreless inning to begin the game, he walked into the batter’s box hoping to inch closer to Florida’s all-time career home run record.

That is exactly what he did.

With Cade Kurland on first after a hit-by-pitch,Jac Caglianonelaunched a ball over the center field wall and into the batter’s eye to give the Gators an early two-run advantage. The long ball also moved him one behind the Gators’ career home run record.

In the next frame, he showed his defensive capabilities and snatched a swinging bunt to tag out a runner heading to first base to end the second inning.

However, the second didn't end without additional fireworks. Caglianone's tag play resulted in the benches clearing because the Clemson base runner ran through the Florida star. Cags retaliated by shoving and fueling the benches to leave their dugout.

A Clemson player involved in the extracurricular activities received an ejection. The umpires gave Caglianone a warning for his involvement.

Clemson, though, used the controversy as way to get back into the game.

In the third inning, the Tigers tallied three runs against Caglianone to take the lead. The Gators, however, responded when shortstop Colby Shelton singled home Kurland to even the score, 3-3.

Florida then reclaimed their lead in the fifth.Loading the bases after a Caglianone intentional walk and Ashton Wilson hit-by-pitch, Shelton singled home a pair to give the Gators a 5-3 lead.

However, with Florida, there is always a rebound run lurking around the corner.

In Caglianone’s final inning on the mound, he gave up a no-doubt shot to left that brought the Tigers within one.After giving up the solo homer, Gators managerKevin O’Sullivanbrought in Jake Clemente from the bullpen to finish the sixth inning.

It was then Florida's turn to answer in the seesaw affair. Having no hits to this point in the Super Regional, Brody Donay came up with a big first knock.A moon shot to right-center field provided his team with a 7-4 advantage.

In the seventh, Clemente dealt some of his best pitches this season. Facing their 9-1-2 hitters, he struck out the side in order.

However, Clemente struggled in the eighth inning, allowing the first three Tigers to reach base. After yielding a run, Brandon Neely took the mound for the second day in a row in a high leverage situation.

Despite allowing the runners Clemente put on the bases to score, Neely exited the inning with the Gators still ahead. Ashton Wilson then supplied him with two insurance runs in the bottom half of the eighth.

That proved to be key, as Clemson again responded. Tigers center fielder Cam Cannarellahit a no-doubt shot to right field with two men on base to tie the score in the ninth.

Before winning in the 13th, Florida had a chance to finish it off in the 10th inning but Cannarella recorded a SportsCenter Top-10 catch in center fielder.

With runners on first and second base and two outs, Cannarella made an incredible over-the-shoulder catch while running into the wall.At the time, the catch saved the game.

O’Sullivan expressed that he couldn't believe Cannarella made the grab.

“I was floored. That’s one of the best catches I’ve ever seen. I knew he was a really good player, but I’m not quite sure I’ve seen a play like that,” said O’Sullivan.

The Gators continued to miss opportunities to win the game in extra innings. Then, the Tigers took the lead with two outs in the 13th, as Clemson outfielderAlden Matheslaunched a ball out of the park.

This homer sent the stadium and the Clemson dugout into pandemonium.

After Mathes rounded the bases, both Clemson manager Erik Bakich and coach Jack Leggett were ejected from the game.The Gators then responded in the bottom of the 13th.

Despite Luke Heyman and Tyler Shelnut not having a hit the entire day, they both came up with huge singles to open the bottom of the 13th. Then after a sacrifice bunt and intentional walk to the next two Gators, Robertson came up with the biggest hit of the season.

With bases loaded and no outs, Robertson punched a ball into the left-center field gap to win the game and send his team to Omaha.

A truly special win that took everyone from the pitching staff to all the hitters to win.And the culture, the energy, teamwork and resiliency from this ball club is something that can’t go unnoticed.

The Gators shortstop addressed that resiliency after the win.

“Yeah, I think we have a great group of guys, and it's been like that the whole year, and we’ve had our ups and downs, but hats off to everyone on our team and our coaching staff,” Shelton said.

“They stuck with us, and all we do is keep battling and battling, and we've had our backs up against the wall the whole year, and it shows how tough of a team we are and how resilient we are.”

7-8-9 Hitters Doing Their Job

Without the bottom of the order producing for the Gators, it’s hard to say if they would still be playing.

Just in the 13th inning alone, they made winning plays.

A beautifully executed bunt fromDale Thomasallowed both runners on base to move into scoring position.

Then,Brody Donayreceived an intentional walk, which brought up the hero Michael Robertson.

And we all know what he did.

These guys may not get all the credit, but they have done a lot of the dirty work to get the Gators into the College World Series.

O’Sullivan harped on the production he’s received from these guys.

“Yeah, in order to have a good offense, you have to have production up and down,” O’Sullivan said.

“Michael's been swinging the bat as good as anybody we've had over the last few weeks, and he's done a really good job of turning the lineup over.”

Also, let’s not forget that Donay hit a two-run bomb in the sixth inning as well.

These guys have been very impactful throughout the postseason and showed up again when the Gators needed them most.

Florida Gators Walk Off Clemson Tigers, College World Series Bound (2024)
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