Sunday, July 9, 2017

2017 Gator Baseball: A SPECIAL Year In Review

In their 103rd season, the Florida Gator baseball team made 2017 unforgettable as they won the first national championship in school history! Posting a record of 52-19 (21-9 SEC) on the season, the Gators conquered many obstacles on route to that elusive first title. Here's a look back on their road to the championship!

SEC Tournament
Entering the SEC Tournament as the No. 1 seed for the 10th time in school history, Florida narrowly defeated the No. 8 seeded Auburn Tigers (35-24) by a score of 5-4 in the second round. Their next opponent would be the No. 5 seeded Mississippi State Bulldogs (36-24) in the quarterfinals two days later.

Using a big eighth inning, the Gators smoked the Bulldogs by a lopsided score of 12-3 to advance to the semifinals for the fourth straight year. Here they would face the No. 4 seeded Arkansas Razorbacks (42-17) and suffer the worst SEC Tournament loss in school history.

The Razorbacks run-ruled the Gators by a score of 16-0 and left many Florida fans baffled and concerned about how this team would do in the postseason. Some were bold enough to even say that Florida did not deserve to host a regional after losing this bad as the No. 1 seed in the tournament.

NCAA Regionals
When Selection Sunday came, Florida was given the No. 3 national seed. Their regional was paired with the winner of the Winston-Salem regional and would play host to Marist (33-23), South Florida (41-17), and Bethune-Cookman (36-25).

In their regional opener against Marist, the Gators did not look too sharp in a 10-6 victory. Next up was South Florida, who had beaten Florida at home by a score of 15-10 on May 9th. This game would need 12 innings, but due to the endurance of closer Michael Byrne and some 12th inning throwing errors from South Florida, the Gators would prevail 5-1.

In the regional final, Florida was matched up against Bethune-Cookman after the Wildcats downed South Florida in the elimination game. The Gators sported a 31-0 record against BCU, so losing never came across as a feasible option to Florida or their fans. However, the Wildcats did not get the memo as they stunned Florida by a score of 6-2.

Now facing elimination, Florida had to rely on a true freshman to pitch them to victory while figuring out how to get the bats working. Fortunately, Kirby McMullen and Austin Langworthy stepped up on the mound as they shut down the Wildcats' offense.

Langworthy hit a three-run home run to kickstart the offense in the sixth inning and the Gators never looked back. They won 6-1 to claim their third straight regional title and would play in a super regional for the ninth time in program history.

NCAA Super Regionals
In the Gainesville Super Regional, Florida would face one of the best offenses in the Wake Forest Demon Deacons (43-20). Before getting any further, I will mention that EVERY SINGLE ONE of these games was delayed by the weather in some fashion.

In a Game 1 that started at 3 p.m. and eventually ended shortly after 10 p.m., the Gators prevailed 2-1 in 11 innings. Senior outfielder Ryan Larson played the hero as he smacked a walk off single up the middle to plate the winning run with the bases loaded and two outs. It would be his biggest hit of the postseason for Florida.

Game 2 would begin on Sunday and end on Monday due to weather. It also ended in walk off fashion as Wake Forest hit a walk off two-run home run off of Michael Byrne to give Wake an 8-6 win in 11 innings. Game 3 began shortly thereafter (with rain interrupting of course), and Florida would punch their ticket to the College World Series with a 3-0 victory.

JJ Schwarz would hit a big home run in the third inning and freshman Tyler Dyson mowed down the Wake Forest lineup to set the stage for Alex Faedo. Having been selected 18th overall by the Detroit Tigers just hours before, Faedo entered in the eighth to get the final six outs of the game. He would do just that, and Florida was going back to Omaha for the 11th time in school history!

College World Series
Looking to finally leave Omaha with a title, the Gators would have to defeat all nationally seeded opponents to get to the promise land. In their opener, the Gators blanked the No. 6 seeded TCU Horned Frogs (50-18) by a score of 3-0 behind an incredible performance from Alex Faedo.

Against the No. 7 seeded Louisville Cardinals (53-12), Florida's offense showed up as they won 5-1. In a rematch against TCU in the semifinals, Florida was humbled as the Horned Frogs routed them 9-2.

In the winner-take-all game, Florida brought back Alex Faedo and again TCU had no answer. He threw a gem in his final college game as Florida again shut out TCU by a score of 3-0.

For the third time ever, Florida would be playing for a national championship in the College World Series Finals! Their opponent would be the No. 4 seeded LSU Tigers (52-20), who had won six titles and had never lost in the national championship.

No one needed to tell Florida how much a national championship victory over LSU would mean. The Tigers had been named "co-champions" of the SEC regular season with Florida despite the Gators having won the series in Gainesville. In addition, LSU had won the SEC Tournament and had been on 17-game winning streak before falling to Oregon State.

Yet, LSU had found a way to defeat one of the winningest teams in college baseball history as they beat Oregon State twice to advance to the College World Series Finals. With some serious momentum and most of the stadium supporting LSU, it was clear that the Gators had quite a challenge ahead of them.

Game 1 would be a nail-biter as Brady Singer's excellent pitching and Jonathan India's two-run double gave Florida a 4-3 win. It would be their first ever victory in the College World Series Finals and put them one game away from a national championship.

Game 2 saw Tyler Dyson take the mound and he gave the Gators six masterful innings. Some of the most iconic defensive plays in Gator baseball history occurred in this game. In the seventh inning, Nick Horvath made a sliding catch to conclude the frame. This came right after an LSU run had been taken off the board due to a dirty slide attempt at Gator shortstop Dalton Guthrie.

In the eighth inning, JJ Schwarz fielded a ground ball and threw out LSU's tying run at the plate to keep the score 2-1 Florida. In both of these innings, LSU had gotten the tying run to third base with no outs and could not capitalize.

After plating four runs in the bottom of the eighth, Florida upped their lead to 6-1. That would be all Jackson Kowar would need, as he induced the game-ending groundout to second baseman Deacon Liput for Florida's first ever national championship!

Season Accomplishments
Winning the first national championship in school history is obviously the biggest accomplishment for Florida this season, but their excellence doesn't stop there. Here are some other achievements from the Florida Gator baseball team in 2017:

  • SEC regular season champions for the 14th time in program history
  • Posted over 50 wins for the sixth time in school history and their 52 wins this year marks the third straight season they have reached this win total.
  • 10 shutout victories
  • Notched 23 victories over ten ranked opponents (Part I). They were (at the time): No. 17 Miami (thrice), No. 3/10/25 Florida State (thrice), No. 4/2 LSU (four times), No. 23 Missouri (thrice)
  • Notched 23 victories over ten ranked opponents (Part II). They were (at the time): No. 18 South Carolina (twice), No. 7 Kentucky (twice), No. 13 Mississippi State, No. 11 Wake Forest (twice), No. 4 TCU (twice), No. 5 Louisville
  • Eight series sweeps (William & Mary, Miami, Columbia, Missouri, Florida State, Georgia, Ole Miss, and Alabama)
  • Won eight of their 10 SEC series while suffering losses to Auburn (three), Tennessee (two), LSU (once), Vanderbilt (once), South Carolina (one), and Kentucky (one).
  • Won their 12th regional title
  • Defended McKethan Stadium well with a 29-9 home record
  • Won over 20 SEC games for the ninth time in school history.
  • Made the NCAA Tournament for the 10th consecutive season and it is their 33rd appearance overall.
  • Won a national championship despite not having a single player on the team hit .300!
  • Finished eighth in the NCAA with a fielding percentage of .981!
  • Won three elimination games in the NCAA Tournament!
  • Went 7-5 in midweek games (would have been 7-6 had they not cancelled the Stetson game due to rain)

Award Winners
After looking at what the team as a whole did, let's now look at some of the accolades that the players themselves earned:

  • ABCA/Diamond South Regional Coach of the Year
    • Kevin O'Sullivan
  • ABCA/Rawlings Second Team All-Americans
    • P - Alex Faedo (Junior)
  • ABCA/Rawlings South All-Region First Team
    • P - Alex Faedo
    • RP - Michael Byrne (Sophomore)

  • Collegiate Baseball Third Team All-Americans
    • P - Alex Faedo

  • SEC Second Team All-Americans
    • DH/UT - JJ Schwarz (Junior)
    • P - Alex Faedo
    • P - Brady Singer (Sophomore)
    • RP - Michael Byrne
  • SEC All-Defensive Team
    • 2B - Deacon Liput (Sophomore)
    • SS- Dalton Guthrie (Junior)
  • SEC Academic Honor Roll
    • Alex Faedo - Family, Youth and Community Sciences
    • Dalton Guthrie - Political Science
    • Christian Hicks - Business Administration
    • Nick Horvath - Family, Youth and Community Sciences
    • Mark Kolozsvary - Health Education and Behavior
    • Jackson Kowar - Food and Resource Economics
    • Ryan Larson - Advertising
    • Nelson Maldonaldo - Anthropology
    • Blake Reese - Forestry
    • Frank Rubio - Criminology
    • JJ Schwarz - Sociology
    • Brady Singer - Social and Behavioral Sciences

  • College World Series Most Outstanding Player
    • P - Alex Faedo (14.1 scoreless innings pitched, 22 strikeouts, and two wins in two starts)
  • College World Series All-Tournament Team
    • OF - Austin Langworthy (Freshman)
    • P - Alex Faedo
    • P- Brady Singer

Single Season School Records
  • Michael Byrne - 19 saves (breaks school record of 13 held by Shaun Anderson, Josh Fogg, and Danny Wheeler)
  • Alex Faedo - 157 strikeouts (breaks school record of 148 held by Rob Bonanno).

MLB Draft Selections
Here's a look at the Gators who were selected in this year's MLB Draft:

  • Alex Faedo (Junior): 1st Round (18th overall) to the Detroit Tigers, pitcher
  • Dalton Guthrie (Junior): 6th Round (173rd overall) to the Philadelphia Phillies, shortstop
  • Mike Rivera (Junior): 6th Round (192nd overall) to the Cleveland Indians, catcher
  • Mark Kolozsvary (Junior): 7th Round (197th overall) to the Cincinnati Reds, catcher
  • David Lee (Junior): 27th Round (808th overall) to the Pittsburgh Pirates, pitcher
  • Frank Rubio (Senior): 29th Round (876th overall) to the San Francisco Giants, pitcher
  • Deacon Liput (Sophomore): 29th Round (880th overall) to the Los Angels Dodgers, second base
  • JJ Schwarz (Junior): 38th Round (1,129th overall) to the Tampa Bay Rays, catcher

Of these eight, Alex Faedo and Mark Kolozsvary have already signed and will be awaiting their starting assignments in the minor leagues. It is safe to say that Dalton Guthrie, Mike Rivera, David Lee, and Frank Rubio will agree to deals while Deacon Liput and JJ Schwarz will return to Florida for their junior and senior seasons, respectively.

Now that the award winners, record setters, and MLB draftees have been honored, it's time now to look at the stat leaders for the 2017 season:


Hits: Dalton Guthrie (69)

RBI's: JJ Schwarz (56)

Doubles: Jonathan India (15) (Sophomore)

Triples: Deacon Liput (2)

Home Runs: JJ Schwarz (12)

Batting Average: Nelson Maldonaldo (.299) (Sophomore)

Slugging Percentage: JJ Schwarz (.444)

On Base Percentage: Nelson Maldonaldo (.449)

Stolen Bases: Jonathan India (13)

Runs Scored: JJ Schwarz (43)

Total Bases: JJ Schwarz (115)

Strikeouts: Deacon Liput (67)

Walks: Nelson Maldonaldo (53) (7th in NCAA)

Hit By Pitch: Ryan Larson (8)

Sacrifice Bunts: Christian Hicks/Jonathan India (5) (Junior)

Sacrifice Flies: Dalton Guthrie/JJ Schwarz (6)


Assists: Deacon Liput (204)

Putouts: JJ Schwarz (534)

Errors: Christian Hicks/Dalton Guthrie (11)

Fielding Percentage: Austin Langworthy (1.000)


Wins: Jackson Kowar (12) (Sophomore) (2nd in NCAA)

Losses: Brady Singer/Michael Byrne (5)

Strikeouts*: Alex Faedo (157) (*Most in NCAA)

Walks: Jackson Kowar (44)

Starting Pitcher ERA: Alex Faedo (2.26)

Relieving Pitcher ERA: Michael Byrne (1.67)

Saves*: Michael Byrne (19) (*Most in NCAA)

Appearances: Michael Byrne (38)

Innings Pitched: Brady Singer (126)

Hit By Pitch: Jackson Kowar (13)

Balks: Brady Singer/Jackson Kowar (3)

Senior Sendoff
In their four years at Florida, graduating seniors Frank Rubio and Ryan Larson have seen both the good and bad. They are the last two remaining from their 15-man recruiting class in which eight were drafted and five transferred out. As freshmen in 2014, Frank and Ryan saw their Florida team lose their own regional in two games.

Since then, it has been nothing but success. The two were a part of three straight College World Series teams and capped it off by winning a national championship in their final year. Let's go now and take one final look at these two's careers for the Orange and Blue.

Frank Rubio
Photo Credits: Twitter

I met Frank personally my freshman year as he lived across the hall from me at Jennings dormitory on UF's campus. He was a great guy to talk to and really gave me some insight on how the team was doing and what it was like playing for coach Kevin O'Sullivan.

Playing all four years and converting to a submarine arm slot before his sophomore season, Frank posted a 3.81 ERA while going 4-3 in 60 appearances. He had 49 strikeouts, 18 walks, and three saves in a total of 85 innings pitched.

Frank's career accolades include:

  • 2017 National Champion
  • 2017 and 2014 SEC Regular Season Champion
  • 2015 SEC Tournament Champion
  • 2017, 2016, 2015, and 2014 SEC Academic Honor Roll

Frank will graduate with a degree in criminology. He can either go to work in his field or give the minor leagues a crack as the San Francisco Giants did take him 876th overall in the 29th Round.

Thank you for these last four years, Frank!

Ryan Larson
Ryan is in the middle with his helmet in his hand.
Photo Credits: ESPN

The only interaction I ever had with Ryan Larson was a "good luck this season" that I said to him as I was out behind the Reitz Union on a cold January day in 2016. He did acknowledge it and went on his way if I recall correctly.

Ryan did not end his collegiate career in the best way despite have a good senior season. After sustaining a head injury in the SEC Tournament, he was just not the same when he returned. In his final nine games as a Gator, Ryan went 2-33 with one RBI, three walks, and 14 strikeouts. He was pinch hit for in his final at-bat in the eighth inning of the national championship.

His one RBI though was huge as it came on his walk off hit to defeat Wake Forest in Game 1 of super regionals! Regardless of what some may say about him, I personally will always remember Ryan as a hero because of that night. Winning that first game would be huge as Florida would need three games to advance to the College World Series.

In addition to cementing himself in some form of Gator lore, Ryan did play all four years at UF. He finishes his Gator career with a slash line of .279/.366/.354 with 137 hits, 79 runs scored, six home runs, 62 RBI's, 18 stolen bases, and a .983 fielding percentage.

Ryan's accolades include:

  • 2017 National Champion
  • 2017 and 2014 SEC Regular Season Champion
  • 2015 SEC Tournament Champion
  • 2017 and 2016 SEC Academic Honor Roll

Ryan will graduate with a degree in advertising and hopefully put it to use as he was not selected in this year's MLB Draft.

Thank you for these last four years, Ryan!

Final Takeaway
Before giving my final thoughts, here are my Top 10 Gator games of the 2017 season:

  1. Florida wins their first ever national championship - 6/27
  2. Brady Singer leads Florida to their first-ever CWS Finals win - 6/26
  3. Alex Faedo spins two gems against TCU - 6/18 and 6/24
  4. Deacon Liput hits a three-run home run as Florida beats Louisville in CWS - 6/20
  5. Ryan Larson hits a walk off against Wake Forest in Game 1 of super regionals - 6/10
  6. Florida defeats USF in 12 innings to advance to regional final - 6/3
  7. Florida beats Kentucky at home to clinch the SEC regular season title - 5/20
  8. JJ Schwarz hits a go-ahead grand slam against South Carolina in the eighth inning - 4/22
  9. Alex Faedo shuts out Miami, LSU, and South Carolina - 2/24, 3/24, and 4/20
  10. Florida Sweeps Florida State for the second straight season - 3/14, 3/28, and 4/11

Florida Gator baseball has meant so much to me these last four years up in Gainesville. In total, I went to 53 games between the 2014 and 2017 seasons! I think that number should be higher, but it's still a pretty great total considering all the things I had going on up there. If I included the games I have watched on TV or my computer, that number would easily be over 100.

To see the 2017 team break through and win a national championship is the best parting gift a super fan like me can ask for. I know my fair share of Gator baseball history, and for this team to be the one to win a title is truly remarkable.

They were doubted all year. When they got swept by Auburn in the opening week of SEC play, people said they had no shot of winning the conference. When they lost to teams like Jacksonville, UCF, FGCU, and USF in midweek games, people said the offense was nonexistent and the pitching depth was not there. When they got absolutely smoked against Arkansas, people said they should not even get a national seed!

Every single time Florida prevailed over the skepticism. They went 10-3 in the NCAA Tournament and defeated one of their most despised SEC rivals to take home the national title. Being that this may be my final ever article for for a long time, I just wanted to tell Florida Gator baseball thank you.

Thank you for taking me back to the days when I played and making me appreciate the game of baseball even more. Thank you for giving me incredible moments with my friends that I will never forget in this lifetime. Thank you for giving me an additional source of income as I was able to usher at the Mac during the national championship season.

Thank you for giving me a team that I could be passionate about and root for win or lose. Thank you for giving me three College World Series appearances, two SEC regular season titles, and an SEC Tournament championship during my time up here.

And of course, thank you for finally giving me and other diehard Gator baseball fans the championship we have been waiting to see for years. Though my days of writing about the team have more than likely reached an end, I will forever support Gator baseball.

I wish the best to Kevin O'Sullivan and company as they move forward with an even stronger team in 2018. Go Gators! 2017 National Champions!



    Thursday, June 29, 2017


    For the first time in program history, the Florida Gators are NATIONAL CHAMPIONS in the sport of baseball! With their 6-1 victory over the rival No. 4 LSU Tigers (52-20) in Game 2 of the College World Series Finals last night, No. 3 Florida (52-19) completed their improbable journey with the most unlikely team.

    I must warn you, what you are about to read may be the most detail-oriented ZKS article ever formulated. So come with me now as I tell you how the Florida Gators FINALLY WON the College World Series!

    Making his second-ever collegiate start, freshman right-hander Tyler Dyson (4-0, 3.23 ERA) delivered an outing that will forever live on in Gator lore. Throwing a career-high six innings, Dyson held the Tigers to one earned run on three hits with two strikeouts and two walks.

    After Zach Watson hit a soft single to lead off the seventh inning, Dyson was pulled with Florida up 2-0. He had thrown a career-high 75 pitches and would be in line for the biggest win in program history if the bullpen could hold on.

    When sophomore closer Michael Byrne came in, LSU starting showing signs of life. Watson proceeded to steal second base and then six-hole Josh Smith hit a ball that landed right in front of a diving Ryan Larson in right center field. It would be a double for Smith and Watson would come around to score to make it 2-1 Florida with no outs.

    Jake Slaughter then singled into left field and put runners on first and third. Listening to the radio at this point, I recall Florida commentator Jeff Cardozo saying that "LSU will probably tie the game here". To be honest, I agreed with him 100%. I saw no scenario where Florida would get out of this inning with the lead intact. Then, the most improbable/fortuitous sequence of events occurred.

    With Michael Papierski up to bat, he hit the second pitch he saw to Deacon Liput at second base. Liput fielded the ball cleanly and flipped it to shortstop Dalton Guthrie, who then made a great throw to first base for the double play.

    So now there were two outs, but the game was tied at 2-2. Or was it? Moments after the second out was recorded, home plate umpire Troy Fullwood made Josh Smith go back to third base. The reason was because when Slaughter slid into Dalton Guthrie at second base, he blatantly tried to take out the Gator shortstop.

    This act then invokes the "Force-Play Slide Rule" which under Section C of the 2017 and 2018 NCAA Baseball Rules states:

    Actions by a runner are illegal and interference shall be called if: 1) The runner slides or runs out of the base line in the direction of the fielder and alters the play of a fielder (with or without contact); 2) The runner uses a rolling or cross-body slide and either makes contact with or alters the play of a fielder; 3) The runner’s raised leg makes contact higher than the fielder’s knee when in a standing position; 4) The runner slashes or kicks the fielder with either leg; or 5) The runner illegally slides toward or contacts the fielder even if the fielder makes no attempt to throw to complete a play. 

    Thus, the penalty of said actions would be:

    With less than two outs, the batter-runner, as well as the interfering runner, shall be declared out and no other runner(s) shall advance.

    As replay clearly showed, Slaughter made NO ATTEMPT to slide into the bag and intentionally tried to take out Dalt. From a baseball perspective, it made no sense for him to do this as the game would have been tied regardless. The LSU majority at TD Ameritrade Park were not happy at all in response to the call. They started booing and throwing trash on the field, prompting a slight delay in the game.

    Slaughter taking out Guthrie at second. (Photo Credits: Brendan Sullivan/The World-Herald)

    So moving forward, it was now two outs with Florida still up 2-1 and the runner returning to third base. With the count 0-2 on Beau Jordan, the junior hit a liner to center field. Making one of the biggest plays of his career, Nick Horvath came crashing in and made a beautiful sliding catch to end the inning and preserve the lead!

    Heading into the eighth, the score remained 2-1 as Byrne trotted back out to the mound. Again, LSU put their leadoff man on base as Kramer Robertson hit a soft single into right field. With Cole Freeman up now, LSU opted to bunt Robertson to second.

    However, Byrne spiked a pitch past catcher Mike Rivera and now Robertson was at second base with no outs. LSU went with the bunt again, and Freeman beat Byrne's throw to put runners on the corners. It was a bad break for Florida, as replay had shown that Freeman was out by half a step.

    Byrne would keep his poise and strike out three-hole Antoine Duplantis before exiting the game with one down and LSU still threatening. In for his first relief appearance of the season was sophomore right-hander Jackson Kowar.

    Kowar's name had been floated out there as the probable Game 3 starter, but it looked like Florida head coach Kevin O'Sullivan was trying to end this series tonight. On Kowar's first pitch out of the pen, cleanup man Greg Deichmann hit a grounder to first base.

    JJ Schwarz backhanded the ball and threw a strike to home plate to cut down the potential tying run in Kramer Robertson. LSU head coach Paul Maineri would come out to argue the call, but it was to no avail. Florida catcher Mike Rivera had put a perfect tag on Kramer and replay did show that the LSU shortstop was indeed out.

    Mike Rivera's game-saving tag on Kramer Robertson.

    So with two down now and runners on first and second, five-hole Zach Watson came up to bat. On a 1-0 count he drilled a pitch to center, but Nick Horvath was right there to glove it. For the second straight inning, Florida had prevented LSU from tying the game with a runner on third and no outs.

    After a four-run offensive explosion in the bottom of the eighth, Jackson Kowar came out in the ninth with a comfortable 6-1 lead. He induced a line out to left field from Josh Smith for out No. 1 and then gave up a pinch hit single to Chris Reid.

    Brennan Breaux would pinch run for Reid and advance to second without a throw. Michael Papierski was up now, and Kowar got him to groundout to Dalton Guthrie for the second out of the inning. Florida was now one out away from a national championship with nine-hole Beaux Jordan settling in and Breaux on third.

    Kowar's first offering to Jordan was hit as a chopping ground ball out to second base. Moving to his left, Deacon Liput gloved the ball threw it to JJ Schwarz for the final out of the ballgame. It was all over! Finally, the Florida Gators had obtained their long awaited national championship in the sport of baseball!

    Everyone gets in on the dog-pile as the Florida Gators celebrate their first-ever National Championship!

    The rest of the team came swarming out of the dugout and gloves went flying into the night sky as the Gators dog-piled near the mound. Their arduous and remarkable journey was complete. In their 103rd season of existence, the Florida Gators would finally be the last team standing in Omaha.

    For Tyler Dyson, he would be awarded the fourth win of his freshman campaign. For the man at the bottom of the dog-pile, Jackson Kowar, he would earn his first-ever collegiate save.

    The Florida Gators capitalized on some LSU miscues and very timely hitting to generate enough offense in the clincher. Recording double-digit hits for the first time all College World Series, Florida banged out 10 base knocks while scoring six total runs. They scratched across one run in each of the first two innings and then broke out for four in the eighth to put this game out of reach.

    In the first inning, Deacon Liput reached on an error by Tiger first baseman Nick Coomes. Dalton Guthrie would single to move him over to third and create an early scoring opportunity for Florida. JJ Schwarz was now up, and with the count 2-0 he smoked a single through the left side to plate Liput and make it 1-0 Florida.

    The Gators would fail to capitalize on anymore scoring chances in the first. Nelson Maldonaldo moved the runners over with a fly ball to right field that Greg Deichmann was fortunate to even catch as he leapt in the air. Soon after, Jonathan India struck out on three pitches and Austin Langworthy flew out to end the frame.

    In the second inning, Nick Horvath picked up his first hit of the College World Series with a two-out single to left field. After an errant throw from Nick Coomes on a pickoff attempt, Horvath was now on second with Deacon Liput up.

    The error would hurt LSU, as Liput singled up the middle to score Horvath and increase the lead to 2-0 Florida. Dalton Guthrie would then reach base via an error, but JJ Schwarz would ground out to end the inning.

    Florida's offense would then go dormant until the eighth inning. They would get base hits before then, but they wold not translate into runs. That would all change when Jonathan India doubled down the left field line to kick off Florida's potential final at-bat of the season.

    Austin Langworthy was up next and drew a walk to bring up Mike Rivera. Florida's captain was asked to bunt and he got down a beautiful sacrifice to put India and Langworthy in scoring position.

    Senior Ryan Larson was up next, but he was denied his final collegiate at-bat as Christian Hicks pinch hit for him. The move panned out as Hicks would be intentionally walked. Freshman Andrew Baker would come on to pinch run for him.

    With the bases loaded now with one out and Florida clinging to a 2-1 lead, Nick Horvath was up in the nine-hole. He had a chance with the bases loaded in the bottom of the third, but had popped up to end the frame. Now was his chance for redemption.

    With the count 1-0, Horvath geared up and took a ball right off the shoulder. It was the best situation imaginable! LSU's star freshman closer Zack Hess (who had been in since the sixth inning) had hit Horvath to force in a run!

    It was now 3-1 Florida with the bases still loaded and the top of the lineup coming to bat. With the count again 1-0, Deacon Liput singled into center field to score both Langworthy and Baker to make it 5-1 Florida! Dalton Guthrie was up now, and he singled on an 0-2 pitch to again load the bases!

    With a chance to put LSU out of grand slam territory, JJ Schwarz jumped on the first pitch he saw and drove it to center field. It would be good for a sacrifice fly as Horvath scored and Liput advanced to third.

    JJ had extended Florida's lead to 6-1 and at this point their championship gear was slowly making its way to the field. Nelly would fly out to end the inning, but a five-run lead would take the pressure off for the ninth.

    Offensive Performers
    The Gator offense made sure they would not have to face LSU ace Alex Lange by jumping on left-handed starter Jared Poche' (12-4, 3.17 ERA) in Game 2. Three Gators had multiple hits in the clincher!

    In the leadoff spot, Deacon Liput went 2-5 with a team-high three RBI's and a run scored. Behind Liput in the two-hole and presumably playing his last collegiate game, Dalton Guthrie went 2-5 with a pair of singles.

    In the five-hole, Jonathan India put his College World Series woes way behind him as he went 2-4 with a double and run scored. He would be the only Gator to record an extra-base hit in the contest.

    For the remainder of the Gator lineup, JJ Schwarz went 1-4 with two RBI's and a sacrifice fly. Behind him, Nelson Maldonaldo went 1-4 with a walk. He served as the team's designated hitter for the second straight contest.

    Also playing his final collegiate game, Mike Rivera went 1-2 with a sacrifice bunt and a walk. Rounding out the lineup was the best surprise of Game 2 in Nick Horvath. He went 1-2 with an RBI, a team-high two runs scored, and the most significant hit-by-pitch in the history of Gator baseball.

    For the fifth straight game, Florida played without an error. Couple that with the Nick Horvath sliding catch in the seventh and the JJ Schwarz throw to home in the eighth, and it should be no surprise the Gators were able to pull this one out.

    Florida did have much help from LSU though, as the Tigers shot themselves in the foot three times. Had the Gators not scored those two unearned runs and went into the eighth down 1-0, it would be hard to say if Sully would have brought in Jackson Kowar or not.

    Final Takeaway
    It is still so surreal to me. In my final week up here in Gainesville, I got to witness my favorite sports program from my alma mater win their first ever national championship! For someone who follows the team as closely as I do, it means so much.

    Not only that, to say I ushered 16 of the 38 home games and attended 19 of them in the NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP SEASON is something I will hold on to forever. Before getting into even more detail about how much this victory means to me, let me do my last ever tidbits on a Gator baseball game.

    So here they are, my final tidbits on Florida's clinching win for a national championship:

    • Florida is now 19-22 all-time in the College World Series and 2-4 all-time in the championship series!
    • With their national championship, No. 3 Florida becomes the first national seed since 2011 (No. 4 South Carolina) to win it all! Ironically, the last time it happened was against the Gators!
    • The Gators conclude their title run with a 10-3 postseason record and a 5-1 mark in Omaha!
    • Florida finishes the year with 52 wins for the third consecutive season, just narrowly missing the school record of 53. It's okay, I will easily take the national championship over a wins record.
    • Florida finishes this year 4-1 against LSU and ups their all-time record in the College World Series to 2-4 against the Tigers. They are the first team in seven tries to defeat the Tigers for a national championship.
    • Florida's combined 10 runs and 16 hits in the championship series are their most ever among their three appearances.
    • This was Deacon Liput's 15th, Dalton Guthrie's 23rd, and Jonathan India's 16th multi-hit game of the year.
    • India's double was his 15th of the year and he finishes the season as Florida's leading man in this offensive category!
    • JJ's sac fly was his sixth of the year and ties him for the team lead with Dalt!
    • Mike Rivera's eighth inning sac bunt was his third of the year. Ryan Larson also laid down his second sac bunt of the season in the sixth inning. It would be his final collegiate at-bat.
    • Just hours after one of the biggest games of his life, Deacon Liput celebrated his 21st birthday!
    • Alex Faedo was named the Most Outstanding Player for the 2017 College World Series. His stat line includes 14.1 scoreless innings pitched, 22 strikeouts, and two wins in two starts.
    • In addition to his MOP award, Faedo was named to the College World Series All-Tournament Team along with Austin Langworthy and Brady Singer.
    • 26,607 fans were in attendance and again the majority were for LSU. That wouldn't bother Florida though.

    Lasting Legacy
    To me personally, this is the most significant Florida Gator national championship in school history. After losing to the eventual National Champion in the two previous seasons, Florida finally broke through! With this being my final season closely covering the team, I can't help but feel like I am also going out as a winner.

    I can't finish up this article without paying my respects to Kevin O'Sullivan. In his 10th year at Florida, he has already solidified an impressive legacy by winning the program's first national championship.

    This was long overdue for Sully, and I am so happy for him, his family, his coaching staff, and his players. To show just how good of a coach he is, keep the following in mind: Not a single one of his players finished the season with a batting average of .300. Yet, they outscored LSU 10-4 between the two games and are National Champions!

    Sully is finally a National Champion!

    A national championship trophy will now forever reside at the Mac. The 2017 Florida Gator baseball team, though not as talented as many other squads that Sully has brought to Omaha, will forever be remembered as the team who successfully closed out the season. This isn't just for them though, it's for every Gator team in the previous 102 seasons who did not reach the promise land.

    It's for the 1998 team that went in the loser's bracket and couldn't make it out. It's for the 1991 and 1996 teams that both had their seasons end with semifinal losses to LSU. It's for the 1998, 2010, 2012, and 2016 teams that went 0-2 in Omaha. It's for the 2015 team that came within one win of the College World Series Finals. Maybe most of all, it's for the 2005 and 2011 teams who got swept in the College World Series Finals.

    I am blessed to have been a part of the Gator Nation and to have watched this program during my three and half years of school up here. This victory makes it all the more sweeter as I head out to Baton Rouge for three years of law school. Not including the season recap, this is my final Florida Gator baseball recap article and I am happy to conclude it by saying:


    Enough said.

    *All stats accredited to


    Tuesday, June 27, 2017

    2017 College World Series: No. 3 Florida Takes Game 1 of Finals Over No. 4 LSU

    The No. 3 Florida Gators (51-19) are now one win away from a national championship after defeating the No. 4 LSU Tigers (52-19) by a score of 4-3 in Game 1 of the College World Series Finals.

    In the biggest start of his collegiate career, sophomore right-hander Brady Singer (9-5, 3.21 ERA) rose to the occasion. In seven innings, he allowed three earned runs on eight hits while striking out 12, walking two, and hitting one batsman.

    After giving up a leadoff double to second-rounder Greg Deichmann with Florida up 4-2 in the bottom of the eighth inning, Singer's night was over. He had thrown 112 pitches, which was his second highest total of the season. In his place for the six-out save came sophomore closer Michael Byrne.

    He induced a pop fly for the first out before freshman third baseman Josh Smith drove a 2-2 pitch into right center. Deichmann would easily score, and Smith tried to put himself in scoring position with only one down.

    As the freshman tried to take second base, Florida center fielder Nick Horvath threw a rocket towards the bag to get Smith out. This would be a pivotal moment in the game and occurred just two batters after Horvath had moved over from right field to center. With the LSU momentum stifled, Byrne got a harmless groundout to end the inning.

    With Florida up 4-3 in the bottom of the ninth, Byrne locked in. He struck out junior long ball threat Michael Papierski, got sophomore pinch hitter Chris Reid to pop up, and then generated the game-ending fly out from senior leadoff man Kramer Robertson to secure the 'W'.

    It would be Byrne's 19th save of the season and give Singer his ninth and final victory of 2017. Byrne threw just 28 pitches in his two innings of work, so it is safe to assume he will be available if needed in Game 2.

    Offensively, Florida had just six hits but was able to generate four runs. They had a big fourth inning as they scratched across a trio of runs and then tacked on an insurance run in the seventh.

    Florida kicked of the scoring with a one-out sacrifice fly from Austin Langworthy that scored Dalton Guthrie. In the process, both JJ Schwarz and Nelson Maldonaldo moved into scoring position at third and second, respectively.

    With two outs now, Florida would need a big hit to put the pressure on LSU early. They would get just that from sophomore third baseman Jonathan India. With the count at 1-0, India crushed a ground-rule double to center field that scored both JJ and Nelly. It was  India's first extra-base hit of the College World Series and extended Florida's led to 3-0!

    Fast-forward to the seventh and Florida was up 3-2. Austin Langworthy smacked a lead off double into right center and was then moved over to third on a Jonathan India sacrifice bunt. With one out now, junior catcher Mike Rivera strode to the plate.

    Down 1-2 in the count, Rivera notched his biggest RBI of the season as he sent the ball back up the middle to score Langworthy and make it 4-2. This would prove to be the game-winning RBI as the Gators snatched the contest by one run.

    Offensive Performers
    Freshman Austin Langworthy continued to have a good College World Series as he was the only Gator with multiple hits. He went 2-3 with a double, one run scored, and one RBI. Ahead of him in the two-hole, junior shortstop Dalton Guthrie went 1-3 with a walk and a run scored.

    Down towards the bottom of the lineup, six-hole Jonathan India went 1-3 with his clutch two-run double in the fourth. After him, Mike Rivera went 1-4 with his big RBI single in the seventh. Rounding out the Gator lineup with his first hit in an eternity, senior outfielder Ryan Larson went 1-3 with a walk out of the nine-hole. He would be picked off to end the third inning.

    Though hitless on the night as the clean-up man, sophomore center fielder Nelson Maldonaldo drew two walks and scored once. Ahead of him in three-hole, JJ also had a walk and accounted for one of Florida's four runs.

    Final Takeaway
    Winning Game 1 was huge for Florida as it slightly takes the pressure off of them for a potential clincher. Now 3-1 on the year against LSU, Florida is the closest they have ever been to a title on the baseball diamond. Before previewing the potential final game of the year, here are my final tidbits on Florida's Game 1 victory:

    • This was Florida's first-ever win in the College World Series Finals. They are now 1-4 in the championship series.
    • This was also Florida's first-ever postseason win against LSU. They are now 1-4 against the Bayou Bengals in the College World Series.
    • Florida is now 18-22 all-time in the College World Series.
    • Florida's four runs are their highest total ever scored in any game of the College World Series Finals.
    • With 12 strikeouts tonight, Brady Singer broke Florida's single-game strikeout record in a College World Series game! The previous record had belonged to teammate Alex Faedo after his 11 K's both times against TCU this postseason.
    • Jonathan India's double was his team-leading 14th of the season while Austin Langworthy now sits at even 10 two-baggers in his freshman campaign.
    • Langworthy's multi-hit game was his ninth of the season. His sac fly was his fourth of the year.
    • India's sacrifice bunt was his fifth of the season and ties him with Christian Hicks for the team lead.
    • Nick Horvath's eighth inning throw gives him 10 assists on the year now.
    • In the bottom of the seventh with Florida up 4-2 and one out, Mike Rivera corralled a dirt ball and threw a missile to second base to cut down Kramer Robertson trying to advance.
    • This is Florida's fourth consecutive errorless game.
    • 25,679 fans were in attendance. I bet you more than half of them were LSU fans.

    Looking Ahead
    Now one win away from their first-ever baseball national championship, Florida will turn to freshman right-hander Tyler Dyson (3-0, 3.55 ERA) to start Game 2. As I somewhat stated earlier, Florida can afford to take a gamble on the freshman with a 1-0 series lead.

    Florida will be the home team and will probably trot out the same lineup as the night before. Throwing against Dyson will be LSU's all-time winningest pitcher in senior left-hander Jared Poche' (12-3, 3.33 ERA). When the Gators faced Poche' in Gainesville, they tagged him for four runs (three earned) on six hits in an 8-1 victory.

    First pitch of Game 2 is set for 8 p.m. It can be seen on ESPN and heard on the Gator IMG Sports Network. Will Dyson get the job done to clinch a title or will Poche' redeem himself on the biggest stage of college baseball? By midnight, we will have our answer.


    Sunday, June 25, 2017

    2017 College World Series: No. 3 Florida Advances to College World Series Finals!!!

    For the third time in school history, the No. 3 Florida Gators (50-19) will be playing for a National Championship after defeating the No. 6 TCU Horned Frogs (50-18) by a score of 3-0 on Saturday night!

    In one of the gutsiest outings of his collegiate career, ace junior right-hander Alex Faedo (9-2, 2.26 ERA) was magnificent. He gave Florida 7.1 shutout innings while yielding just three hits, striking out 11 for the second consecutive game, and walking four Horned Frogs.

    With his pitch count at 113 and Florida up 3-0 in the eighth inning, Faedo was pulled with one out and a runner on first base. In his place came sophomore closer Michael Byrne for the five-out save. He inherited a 2-0 count to freshman designated hitter Zach Humphreys and promptly fired in two strikes.

    With the count 2-2, Humphreys singled off of Byrne to bring the tying run to the plate in junior catcher Evan Skoug. The night before, Skoug had delivered with a bases-clearing double that put the game out of reach. Could he do the same this time around?

    With the count again 2-2, Byrne reared back and fired a fastball past the swinging bat of Skoug for the second out of the inning. It was a big-time pitch from Byrne, but he was not out of the woods just yet.

    Stepping in now was senior cleanup man Cam Warner, who was hitless but had worked two walks earlier in the contest. With the count 2-1, Byrne got Warner to hit a deep fly out to right field to end the threat. Florida was now within three outs of the championship series.

    In the ninth, Byrne sandwiched a groundout in-between a pair of strikeouts to send the Gators to the College World Series Finals. It would be the 18th save of the sophomore's already historic season and ninth for Alex Faedo this year. Depending on how the championship series goes, it may be the final collegiate victory for Faedo.

    Florida upped their hit total from last night as they had seven base knocks in this game. They also increased their run total as they plated three in the contest. The Gators managed to scratch one across in the second, fifth, and seventh innings.

    In the second, junior catcher Mike Rivera kicked off the scoring. With runners on the corners, he hit a grounder to the right side that second baseman Cam Warner dove and corralled. Warner was unable to pick the ball up in time though, and got just the one out at second base. Austin Langworthy would come around to score the game's first run.

    In the fifth, Mike Rivera was again involved as he had reached first base on a hit-by-pitch. With the count 2-0 on Christian Hicks, the junior designated hitter drilled a pitch into left center for a double. Rivera would come all the way around to score to make it 2-0 Florida.

    In the seventh, the greatest stroke of fortune hit Florida. With two outs and Christian Hicks on third base, sophomore shortstop Deacon Liput came to bat. He went after the first pitch he saw and hit a routine ground ball to first base.

    As junior first baseman Connor Wanhanen prepared to field the ball, it struck first base and ricocheted to his right. Liput dashed into first base safe and Hicks came in to give the Gators a 3-0 lead. It was one of the more bizarre plays in Omaha, and it seemed fitting that Florida found themselves on the beneficiary side of it.

    Offensive Performers
    Christian Hicks picked a good time to heat up as he was the only Gator with multiple hits in the game. Going 2-3, Hicks doubled in the fifth, tripled in the seventh, scored a run, and had one RBI. For the remainder of the lineup, Deacon Liput went 1-4 out of the leadoff spot with his whacky RBI single in the seventh.

    In the three-hole, junior first baseman JJ Schwarz notched his second hit of this College World Series with a double in the sixth inning. Behind JJ in the cleanup spot, sophomore right fielder Nelson Maldonaldo went 1-4 with a single in the fourth inning.

    In the five-hole, freshman left fielder Austin Langworthy remained a rally starter as he went 1-4 with a leadoff double in the second inning. In the six-hole, sophomore third baseman Jonathan India went 1-4 as he moved Austin to third base with a second inning single into left field.

    Both teams played perfect defense with neither club recording an error. For Florida, it would be their third consecutive errorless game. The Orange and Blue also picked off their third baserunner of the College World Series in this game.

    In the fourth inning with one out, Alex Faedo caught senior shortstop Ryan Merrill leaning too far off first base. Merrill would be Faedo's second pickoff victim in Omaha, with teammate Nolan Brown being the first in the very same inning of the opening game.

    Final Takeaway
    With their season on the line for the third time in the NCAA Tournament, the Florida Gators answered the call. Now, they will prepare to do what neither team in 2005 or 2011 could do: Bring a baseball national championship to Gainesville.

    Before previewing Florida's matchup against a very familiar opponent in the College World Series Finals, here are my final (lengthier than usual) tidbits on one of the biggest Florida Gator baseball victories in recent memory:

    • Florida is now 17-22 all-time in the College World Series.
    • Matching their 3-0 victory over TCU from Sunday, the Gators now improve their all-time record against the Horned Frogs to 2-1.
    • Alex Faedo tied his own single-game College World Series strikeout record with 11 K's yet again. He has now surpassed LSU's Alex Lange as the nation's strikeout leader with 157 punch outs.
    • In tonight's contest, Faedo became Florida's single-season strikeout leader. The record (148) had been previously set by Rob Bonano in 1994.
    • I'm not done with Faedo yet. In his two College World Series starts this postseason, he boasts a stat line of 14.1 innings pitched, zero runs allowed on five total hits, 22 strikeouts, and six walks.
    • It gets even crazier on the broader scale. In 33.1 innings of this 2017 NCAA Tournament, Faedo has allowed three runs (two earned) on 20 hits. He has struck out 51 batters while walking 22.
    • Florida notched their 50th victory tonight, giving them their third consecutive season with at least 50 wins. This is the fourth time under Kevin O'Sullivan that Florida has hit the 50-win mark and sixth time in school history.
    • This is Christian Hicks's 18th multi-hit game of the season.
    • Langworthy's double was his ninth, Hicks's double was his 11th, and JJ's was his 12th of the season.
    • Hicks's triple was both his first of the year and his career.
    • Nelly leads all Florida players with four hits in this College World Series.
    • Florida shortstop Dalton Guthrie had to exit the game in the third inning due to lower back pain. He says he will be alright for the National Championship.
    • Despite Florida again tagging him with the loss, TCU ace Jared Janczak (9-2, 2.31 ERA) threw well. He allowed three earned runs on three hits in seven innings. He struck out seven Gators and hit only Mike.
    • After Janzak left, sophomore right-hander Durbin Feltman was untouchable in relief. He struck out five of the six Gators he faced.
    • All four of TCU's hits were singles.
    • Senior outfielder Ryan Larson has zero hits in his last 23 at-bats with 11 strikeouts. If you ask me, he should not be in the lineup over the course of the championship series. He is just not the same after the injury he suffered in the SEC Tournament.
    • 18,093 people were on hand to watch the Gators clinch a spot in the Finals.

    Looking Ahead
    So it all comes down to this. In the best-of-three College World Series Finals, the No. 3 Florida Gators (50-19) will be taking on the No. 4 LSU Tigers (52-18) in an all-SEC National Championship. This is the third time that two SEC schools have met in the championship round of the College World Series.

    For Florida, it has to be a familiar feeling of sorts as they hooked up with South Carolina in the 2011 National Championship. They had lost the regular season series to the Gamecocks that year and went on to lose the National Championship in a two-game sweep. Six years later and Florida has limped into the title game still seeking that first championship.

    I say "limped" because Nelson Maldonaldo is the only Gator hitting above .300 as the offense has begun to sputter. From a health standpoint, Dalton Guthrie, Nelly, and Garrett Milchin are all banged up with Alex Faedo unable to go unless a Game 3 is needed. I know Florida's backs have been up against the wall all season, but this is going to be the toughest mountain yet to climb.

    On the flip side, LSU is looking to capture their seventh title after winning it all in 2009. They enter the championship round having won three straight elimination games and slaying the giant that was No. 1 Oregon State (56-6). They have first round ace Alex Lange (10-5, 2.97 ERA) rested for a potential Game 2 clincher and the offense is getting hot at the right time.

    The Gators and Tigers are all too familiar with each other. They have met 109 times with Florida trailing the series 47-61-1. Since Sully took over in 2008 though, Florida is 18-11 against LSU. This will be the fifth meeting between these two rivals in the College World Series. The previous four matchups have not at all gone Florida's way, as they are 0-4 all-time against LSU in Omaha.

    Earlier this season, these two hooked up for a three-game set at the Mac in mid-March. Florida took the first two games by scores of 1-0 and 8-1 while LSU won the final game 10-6 with a dramatic eighth inning comeback. That loss would ultimately come back to bite Florida, as they had to "share" the SEC regular season title with the Bayou Bengals.

    In the SEC Tournament, these two were destined to meet for the fourth straight year, but a 16-0 drubbing to Arkansas knocked Florida out in the semifinals. It only made the Tigers' path easier in Hoover as they claimed their 12th SEC Tournament title by a score of 4-2 over Arkansas. This gave them a more valid claim to being the true champions of the SEC.

    Well now the ultimate SEC champion can be decided as these two meet on the biggest stage of Division I college baseball. With all the animosity that these fanbases have toward each other, it almost seems fitting that the 2017 NCAA Division 1 Baseball National Championship will be the next chapter in this historic (and sometimes pretty nasty) rivalry.

    On a personal level, I have had some of my friends dub this National Championship as the "Gonzo Series". The reason being that Florida is my alma mater and LSU is my law school. It is still surreal to me that both schools that I have academic ties to are playing one another in the championship series.

    Even though it pretty much is a win-win for me, I will be pulling hard for my Gators. I have been this team's unofficial beat reporter for the last two seasons and I would want nothing more than for them to cap off my final writing days with a National Championship. Whether they have the personnel or offensive prowess to do it though is not for me to say.

    Game 1 of what will be an awesome championship series is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Monday, June 26th. Sophomore right-hander Brady Singer (8-5, 3.18 ERA) will get the nod for Florida in the biggest game of his career while LSU's starter is still to be determined. The contest can be seen on ESPN and heard on the Gator IMG Sports Network.

    *All stats accredited to


    Saturday, June 24, 2017

    2017 College World Series: No. 6 TCU Blasts No. 3 Florida in Rematch

    The No. 4 Florida Gators (49-19) still remain one win away from the College World Series Finals after losing their semifinal game to the No. 6 TCU Horned Frogs (50-17) by a score of 9-2.

    Making his first College World Series start, sophomore right-hander Jackson Kowar (12-1, 4.15 ERA) came out of the gates firing. He struck out five consecutive TCU batters to start the game while tallying a total of 11 punch outs in only five innings of work. His 11 K's would tie Florida's single-game College World Series strikeout record that Alex Faedo had set on Sunday night at TCU's expense.

    Despite all their swings and misses, TCU made it count when they made contact off of Kowar. They tagged him for six base knocks which resulted in four runs. Kowar also walked two batters and had a couple of wild pitches that the Horned Frogs would capitalize on.

    At the start of the sixth inning, Kowar was removed with his pitch count at 94. Freshman right-hander Garrett Milchin would enter in his place with Florida down 4-2. Pitching for the first time since May 14th against Alabama, it was evident that the Windermere product had some rust to shake off.

    After a groundout on the second pitch of the inning, Milchin began to lose his command. He walked the next batter on a full count, gave up a single on an 0-2 count, and then issued his second free pass of the inning on four pitches.

    On his second pitch to junior leadoff man Austen Wade, Milchin tweaked something in his throwing hand and had to come out of the game. It was now up to senior right-hander Frank Rubio with the bases juiced. Trying to avoid the big inning, the side-armer induced a groundout to sophomore third baseman Jonathan India on his third pitch of the inning.

    India fielded the ball cleanly and instead of coming home with the ball, he tried to turn a 5-4-3 double play. He got the out at second base, but Florida was unable to turn two and end the inning. It was now 5-2 TCU with the run being charged to Milchin.

    After a stolen base and another walk on a full count, TCU broke this game wide open. With the count 2-2 and junior catcher Evan Skoug up to bat, the seventh round draft pick smacked a bases clearing double into right center field. Two of those runs were charged to Milchin and it was now 8-2 TCU. The nail was essentially in the coffin for Florida. A grounder would end the inning, but the damage had been done.

    Frank would work a perfect seventh, but would again hit a wall in the eighth. After a leadoff walk followed by a pop up, Frank gave up a one-out single on a hit-and-run. With runners on the corners, TCU got another run on a fielder's choice to junior shortstop Dalton Guthrie. It was now 9-2 Horned Frogs. Frank would get a groundout to conclude the inning.

    In the ninth, Frank had no problems. He allowed a two-out single, but a groundout three pitches later would end the inning. Frank would finish with a stat line of 62 pitches thrown in 3.2 innings of relief. He allowed two earned runs on three hits while striking out one batter and walking two. Jackson Kowar's unblemished record would come to an end, as this would be his first loss of the season.

    The Gator offense reverted to their anemic ways with just two runs on five hits. Both of Florida's runs came in the fourth inning by means of a Mike Rivera home run and a Dalton Guthrie double.

    No Gator had multiple hits in this game. Dalton Guthrie went 1-4 out of the two-hole and had to settle for his ninth double of the year after missing a three-run home run by six inches. In the cleanup spot, sophomore designated hitter Nelson Maldonaldo went 1-4 with a bloop single in the sixth inning.

    Skipping down to the eight-hole, junior catcher Mike Rivera went 1-2 with a walk and his third home run of the year. The rest of Florida' hits came from pinch hitters. Keenan Bell notched the 26th base knock of his freshman campaign with a single in the ninth inning. In the same frame, fellow freshman Andrew Baker obtained his fourth-career collegiate hit with a single that moved Baker to third base.

    Final Takeaway
    The Gators have been loose and easy-going throughout the entire College World Series, but this loss has to add some form of pressure. No Florida team has ever blown a 2-0 semifinal lead, and it looks like the bats may be trending downwards.

    However, Florida does have the ideal situation going into their third elimination game of this postseason. I'll explain why after the tidbits from this loss:

    • Florida is now 16-22 all-time in the College World Series.
    • The Gators' all-time record against TCU is now 1-1.
    • Deacon Liput's seven-game hitting streak is now over after an 0-4 night.
    • Liput's team lead for steals is gone too, as Jonathan India nabbed his 13th stolen base in the fourth inning.
    • TCU's top offensive performers (Part I) were: right fielder Austen Wade (2-5 a double, two runs scored, two RBI's, and a stolen base) and freshman designated hitter Zach Humphreys (1-3 with a double, a run scored, two RBI's, and two walks).
    • TCU's top offensive performers (Part II) were: Evan Skoug (2-5 with a double and three RBIs). senior third baseman Elliott Barzilli (2-5 with a run scored) and sophomore left fielder Josh Watson (2-3 with a triple, two runs scored, two RBI's, and a walk).
    • TCU freshman right-hander Charles King (1-3, 5.44 ERA) was sensational in relief. Throwing 3.1 innings, King allowed zero runs on just one hit while fanning five Gators.
    • TCU senior shortstop Ryan Merrill made the only error of the game in the fourth inning, but it would not come back to hurt the Horned Frogs.
    • I didn't say this the last two articles, but the strike zone was terrible for both teams. It has been like this the entire College World Series and it is a disgrace to baseball how inconsistent the home plate umpires have been.
    • 25, 329 were in attendance for this semifinal matchup.

    Looking Ahead
    So here we are. The season and a trip to the title game is on the line for No. 3 Florida (49-19) as they take on No. 6 TCU (50-17) for the third and final time. Elaborating on what I said earlier, Florida has everything lined up as the pitching combination will be Alex Faedo, Tyler Dyson, and Michael Byrne.

    The trio was untouchable against TCU on Sunday night, so hopefully they have a repeat performance on tap. Ideally, Faedo gets an early lead and eats up seven innings before Dyson and Byrne close it out in the eighth and ninth.

    For TCU, they will trot out redshirt sophomore right-hander Jared Janczak (9-1, 2.19), who suffered his first loss of the season to Florida in their first meeting. Expect the TCU ace to be ready to go after not getting it done in the opening round against the Gators.

    This will be a low-scoring game where runs will be at a premium. If either team can get to the other's ace early, then it may be game over. For Florida though, they do have the luxury of trotting out Dyson or Byrne in the event that Faedo gets into trouble with the game hanging in the balance.

    Granted, Faedo himself can work out of high-leverage situations fairly well, but just having that safety net there has to make Florida head coach Kevin O'Sullivan breathe a sigh of relief.

    First pitch is slated for 8 p.m. The game can be seen on ESPN and heard on the Gator IMG Sports Network (which again is the best commentary to listen to if you feel that the ESPN announcers are coming off as biased). Regardless of who wins, the victor will be playing for the first national championship in school history next week!

    *All stats accredited to