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NCAA Tournament: UConn baseball eliminated by No. 2 Florida, 8-2

Hurston Waldrep’s splitter was just too much for UConn’s offense.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

UConn baseball’s season came to an end on Saturday, as the No. 2 Florida Gators eliminated the Huskies from the Gainesville Regional with a 8-2 victory at Condron Ballpark. Jim Penders’ team finished third in its fifth consecutive Regional appearance.

Ben Huber, in his final game before exhausting his collegiate eligibility, was the only Husky with multiple hits, finishing 3-for-4 on the day.

Garrett Coe started against an explosive Gator offense and while he limited the big hits, he played with fire throughout his outing.

He walked Cade Kurland to begin the bottom of the first and hit Jac Caglianone two batters later, but worked around it. 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 crooked inning for Florida, as Caglianone ran into one and took it to the left-center gap, but David Smith tracked it down to end the threat.

UConn tied the game up at 1-1 in the third. Korey Morton started it off by getting his team’s first hit off of Hutson Waldrep with one down, lacing a double into left field. Smith, as he did a few times in the Gainesville Regional, drove a pitch right back up the middle to plate Morton.

The Huskies got two on in the fourth and sixth, the latter of which came with nobody out, but Waldrep’s splitter was on and he limited threats all afternoon with the punchout, recording three of his 12 strikeouts by retiring the side after letting two on to begin the sixth.

Coe had a strong third, but the magic ran out in the fourth. He walked two of the first three hitters he faced to get Zach Fogell throwing in the bullpen, then took a 108 mph line drive from Kurland off of his left leg, forcing him to exit. Coe, who pitched 3 13 innings, walked five batters, hit two more and surrendered two hits before his exit. He was ultimately charged with four runs.

Will Nowak got Langford to fly out on the first pitch before UConn head coach Penders brought Fogell, a lefty, in to face the left-handed Caglianone. The power bat was sitting slider and he did not miss on the first pitch he saw, depositing it well over the right-field wall for a 5-1 Florida advantage and his 30th homer of the season.

Florida added an insurance run in the fifth, which was more than enough for Waldrep, who pitched a clean seventh, adding a pair of strikeouts in the process. UConn only managed five hits off of the junior in his seven innings of work.

The Huskies pulled one back in the eighth when Dominic Freeberger dropped blooper in front of Langford in left field, but Ryan Daniels struck out on a nasty curveball from Nick Ficarrotta to strand two runners on base. That was erased when Caglianone went yard in the eighth for the second time.

UConn finished with a 44-17 record for a second straight 40-win season and was 4-4 in postseason play, including 1-2 in the NCAA Tournament.