Gators baseball follows Langford’s lead to eliminate Alabama in SEC Tournament
Langford hit back-to-back leadoff home runs in win against Crimson Tide
HOOVER, AL. (WCJB) - Wyatt Langford and teammate, Jud Fabian, were tied for the most home runs in the Southeastern Conference entering Saturday’s win-or-go-home conference tournament game against Alabama, but after belting leadoff home runs in the top of the 1st and 2nd innings to help Florida beat Alabama, 11-6, Langford now stands alone, in arguably, the best league in collegiate baseball.
The Gators (38-21) staved off elimination by scoring 11 runs on 12 hits, including a trio of home runs, to propel them to a showdown with Texas A&M in the semifinals of the SEC Tournament.
Not only did Langford hit two solo home runs in the contest, the super sophomore out of Trenton also drove in another run on an rbi groundout, to finish the day 2-5 with three rbi and three runs scored.
Florida raced out to a 4-0 lead after Langford, Jack Caglianone, and shortstop Josh Rivera combined to drive in the first runs of the game in the top of the first. However, that comfortable advantage quickly disappeared after Anthony Ursitti, making his first career start, gave up four runs in the bottom of the frame.
In the top of the 2nd, Langford struck again with a leadoff home run, followed by an rbi groundout in the 3rd to give his team a 6-4 lead. Once again, though, the Gators lead went away all too quickly. Ursitti surrendered his second home run of the day in the bottom of the inning - a 2-run shot to tie the game, 6-6. Ursitti’s first home run given up, in the bottom of the first, was a 3-run homer that also tied the game, 4-4.
From there, the two teams entered a quiet period for two innings, before B.T. Riopelle grounded into a double play that drove in Langford to plate the go-ahead run to make it 7-6.
The score remained that way until the top of the 9th, when Rivera squeezed Jud Fabian in from third to give Florida an 8-6 advantage. Then Mac Guscette put the ballgame to bed with a 3-run home run to balloon the score to 11-6.
With the lead well in hand, Nick Ficarrotta closed out the contest. The red shirt freshman, who walked on the the baseball team, threw a masterful 6.1 innings pitched. He did not allow a single run to come across for Alabama, despite giving up five hits and a pair of walks. He also struck out six in his performance, including freezing Andrew Pinckney to end the ballgame.
Florida improved to 12-1 in the last 13 games against Alabama and will play again Saturday, this time facing Texas A&M at 5:30 p.m. The Aggies already run-ruled the Gators in their first contest this tournament, so if the orange and blue want to make an appearance in the conference title game they’ll need to beat A&M to get there.
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