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Florida Gators end Clemson baseball’s season with 13th inning walk-off

There was a team in orange that ended up dogpiling after a walk-off base hit at Doug Kingsmore Stadium this weekend.

It just wasn’t the Clemson Tigers.

The Florida Gators got a bases-loaded double from Michael Robertson in the bottom of the 13th inning off Ethan Darden for a marathon 11-10 victory to win the Clemson Super Regional Sunday and advance to the College World Series in Omaha.

It’s the second straight year the Gators (34-28) will end their season in Omaha. Florida finished as runner-up to national champion LSU a season ago.

The Tigers wrapped up their season at 44-16 overall.

Players and coaches were ejected. A brawl nearly broke out. TV cameras malfunctioned. A catch in centerfield reminded some fans of Willie Mays.

If it could have happened in a baseball game, it probably did in the five-plus hours it took to complete this marathon between the Tigers and Gators.

Florida got home runs from Jac Caglianone, Brody Donay and Ashton Wilson for their ninth consecutive series win when reaching a Super Regional.

The Gators, batting as the home team, wasted no time in taking the early lead. After Aidan Knaak’s first pitch plunked leadoff man Cade Kurland on the arm, Caglianone blasted his 33rd homer of the season over the batter’s eye in centerfield for a quick 2-0 lead.

Clemson got a two-out double from Jack Crighton in the second. Then came the first of many memorable moments from Game 2 of this Super Regional.

After Crighton’s double, Nolan Nawrocki sent a pitch back to the mound. Caglianone tagged out an aggressive Nawrocki, who collided with the Florida pitcher on his way to first. That caused a bit of chirping from Caglianone and Nawrocki as both teams’ benches threatened to empty.

Umpires gathered for several lengthy moments to discuss ejections. After a discussion with between Clemson head coach Erik Bakich and the crew chief, Bakich motioned for Crighton to come out of the dugout and on to the field. Crighton, it was then announced, had been ejected for heading toward the commotion between Nawrocki and Caglianone.

Tryston McCladdie took over at first base for Crighton. Both benches were given warnings. Once play resumed after a delay that totaled 18 minutes, Knaak allowed a one-out walk to Dale Thomas before striking out Donay and Robertson to end the inning.

After Caglianone took the mound in the third inning to a loud chorus of boos, Jacob Hinderleider got an already amped-up crowd further on its feet by splitting the gap in right-center for an RBI double to put Clemson on the board and make it 2-1.

Blake Wright gave the Tigers their first lead at 3-2 lead with a no-doubt two-run homer to dead center. It was Wright’s 22nd home run.

But the Gators’ bats never rested and proved too powerful for Clemson pitchers to bring down. Florida got a pair of run-scoring hits from Colby Shelton to build a 5-3 lead. Knaak’s day ended with the freshman right-hander at 84 pitches. He yielded five runs on four hits and three walks in 4 1/3 innings.

For every Clemson rally, the Gators ultimately answered with one of their own. After Jimmy Obertop hit his 22nd home run to make it a one-run game at 5-4 in the sixth inning, Donay hit a two-run shot in the bottom half to increase Florida’s lead to 7-4.

In the eighth, Wright led off with a single and scored when Cam Cannarella lined a base hit to left-center, cutting the lead to 7-5. McCladdie fought back from an 0-2 count to rip an RBI single into right that made it 7-6.

Florida responded with a two-run shot from Wilson in the bottom of the eighth that made it 9-6.

The fireworks were just getting started.

With the Tigers down to their last two outs in the ninth, Cannarella hit a game-tying three-run homer that evened things up at 9-9. Cannarella’s blast was his 11th of the season, part of a four-RBI day.

The sophomore centerfielder saved his best work for the 10th inning. With two out and the winning run at second, Wilson hit a deep drive to center. Cannarella, playing shallow, raced back and made an over-the-shoulders catch with his back to his teammates.

The play became an instant classic, sending social media abuzz and earning recognition from ESPN’s SportsCenter.

In the 13th, Clemson pulled ahead 10-9 when Alden Mathes hit a solo home run off Luke McNeillie with two out.

Florida got back-to-back singles from Luke Heyman and Tyler Shelnut leading off the bottom of the inning. Thomas grounded out before Donay was intentionally walked by Darden.

Robertson’s double split the gap in left-center as Florida began to celebrate. The Gators and Tigers combined for 25 hits. Robertson (2-for-6) was one of three Florida players to finish with two hits.

Clemson got four hits from Wright, the senior second baseman who finished 4-for-6. Hinderleider added three hits in a 3-7 showing, and Cannarella went 2-6.

Darden (5-5) suffered the loss with McNeillie (4-6) getting the win.

Story originally appeared on Clemson Wire