Gators walk-off Saint Mary’s in extra innings

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The Florida Gators walked off the Saint Mary’s Gaels in a back-and-forth extra-inning thriller on a three-run homer by shortstop Colby Shelton to secure a 12-11 victory on Friday night at Condron Family Ballpark.

In a matchup with five lead changes, Saint Mary’s scored three runs in the top of the ninth inning to even the score at nine runs apiece. They fed off their momentum and once again silenced the crowd with a two-run bomb to center field from Christian Almanza in the 10th.

Now down 11-9 going into the bottom of the 10th, the No. 4 Gators had their backs against the wall. After a double from Armando Albert and a walk by Jac Caglianone, Shelton stepped to the plate, representing the winning run.

Shelton capitalized on the moment, lacing a home run down the left-field line for his second home run of the game. The Gators (9-4) stormed the field as Shelton rounded home, throwing his helmet in the air in celebration.

“Walk-off in the home stadium (and) get a win for this team – there’s no cooler feeling,” Shelton said. “It’s hard to describe, but the feeling is ecstatic. It feels great.”

To start the game, the Gaels (8-5) came out swinging, scoring two runs in the first inning on a leadoff double by Gavin Napier, a single by Ryan Pierce and sacrifice fly by Coleman Schmidt.

Despite going down two runs, the Gators immediately responded with three runs of their own. Florida scored on a double by Luke Heyman and singles by Shelton and Ty Evans.

However, Saint Mary’s responded, scoring two runs on doubles by Harrison and Pierce.

The back-and-forth battle continued as Florida tied the game, 4-4, in the bottom of the second. The Gators also added two runs in the third on a double by Brody Donay to take a two-run lead.

Saint Mary’s added an additional run in the fourth inning, but Florida once again responded, as Shelton hit a two-run home run to increase the lead to 7-5.

The Gators added two more runs in the sixth and seventh innings to take their biggest lead, 9-5.

While Florida had a comfortable lead, the game was far from over. Saint Mary’s cut into the lead in the eighth to decrease Florida’s advantage to three going into the ninth inning.

Saint Mary’s stunned the home crowd in the ninth, scoring three runs to even the score at 9-9. Pinch hitter Aiden Taurek came into the game and immediately made an impact, hitting an electric two-run triple down the right-field line. Taurek then scored the game-tying run on a flyout.

The four runs in two innings to even the score set up the wild ending in extra-innings, with Shelton, a top prospect for July’s MLB draft, delivering in the clutch to fend off Saint Mary’s upset bid.

“Make no mistake about it, we informed our team that [St Mary’s] is a good team,” Florida coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “It’s not your typical West Coast team playing a bunch of small ball stuff. We made mistakes that they made us pay for.”

The Gators will look to secure the home series win when they face Saint Mary’s in Game 2 of this three-game series at 1 p.m. ET Saturday.

Ava Baccari
Ava Baccari
Ava Baccari is a junior undergraduate student at the University of Florida. She is majoring in Journalism with a specialization in Sports and Media. Follow her on X (Twitter) @avabsports.

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