Hurston Waldrep’s splitter was too much for the UConn offense.
UConn’s baseball season came to a close on Saturday, when the No. 2 Florida Gators knocked out the Gainesville Regional Huskies with an 8-2 victory at Condron Ballpark. Jim Penders’ team finished third in their fifth consecutive regional appearance.
Ben Huber, in his final game before exhausting his college eligibility, was the only Husky with multiple hits, going 3-for-4 on the day.
Garrett Coe started against an explosive Gator offense and, while limiting big hits, played with fire throughout his outing.
He walked Cade Kurland to start the bottom of the first and hit Jac Caglianone two batters later, but he ducked. In the second, he wasn’t so lucky, as he loaded the bases with two down and walked Wyatt Langford to open the scoring. It was almost a lopsided tackle for Florida, as Caglianone ran into one and drove it into the left-center gap, but David Smith tracked it down to end the threat.
UConn tied the game 1-1 in the third. Korey Morton started off by getting his Hutson Waldrep team’s first hit with a chance, hitting a double to left field. Smith, as he did a few times in the Gainesville Regional, drove a pitch up the middle to drive in Morton.
The Huskies hit two in the fourth and sixth, the last of which came with no outs, but Waldrep’s splitter was on fire and limited threats all afternoon with strikeout, recording three of his 12 strikeouts by retiring the side after allow two to enter. the sixth begins
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Coe had a strong third, but the magic ran out in fourth. He walked two of the first three batters he faced for Zach Fogell to pitch into the bullpen, then took a 108 mph line drive from Kurland with his left leg, forcing him out. Coe, who pitched 3 1/3 innings, walked five batters, hit two more and gave up two hits before his departure. He was ultimately charged with four runs.
Will Nowak made Langford fly out on the first pitch before UConn head coach Penders brought in Fogell, a lefty, to face the lefty Caglianone. The power bat was sitting and he didn’t miss the first pitch he saw, depositing it well over the right-field wall for a 5-1 Florida lead and his 30th home run of the season.
Florida added an insurance run in the fifth, which was more than enough for Waldrep, who pitched an earned seventh, adding a pair of strikeouts in the process. UConn managed just five junior hits in his seven innings of work.
The Huskies got one back in the eighth when Dominic Freeberger dropped a blooper off Langford in left field, but Ryan Daniels struck out on Nick Ficarrotta’s bad curveball to leave two runners on base. That was erased when Caglianone went yardage in the eighth for the second time.
UConn finished with a 44-17 record for the second straight 40-win season and went 4-4 in the postseason, including 1-2 in the NCAA Tournament.