Florida Gators Win National Title For First Time In School History
For the Florida Gators baseball program, the third time is the charm.
Last night at TD Ameritrade Park, the Gators captured their first baseball national championship in school history, sweeping the LSU Tigers in a best-of-three series, 6-1, behind another strong performance from Florida’s pitchers.
Florida held tight to a 2-1 lead in the seventh inning after a single and an RBI double by LSU’s Josh Smith knocked Gator starter Tyler Dyson out of the game. Michael Byrne then allowed a base hit to Jake Slaughter to put runners at the corners and the Tigers thought they had the break they needed, when on a 4-6-3 double play groundout by Michael Papierski, scored Smith with the tying run. However, umpires ruled that when Slaughter slid into second base, it interfered with shortstop Dalton Guthrie, therefore a runner cannot advance on an interference play and Smith was sent back to third base. The Gators then got the final out of the inning and opened the flood gates in the bottom of the eighth.
Former Team One Futures East and Florida showcase standout Jonathan India got it started with a double down the left field line and after a walk and sacrifice bunt, Christian Hicks was intentionally walked to load the bases. Nick Horvath, a multiple-time Under Armour Southeast Championship and Fall Classic participant, was hit by a pitch to make the score, 3-1. Deacon Liput put two more across for the Gators with his single, plating Andrew Baker (who pinch ran for Hicks) and Austin Langworthy, to make it 5-1. The bases were loaded again after a Guthrie (2012 Team One Futures East) single and JJ Schwarz (2012 Under Armour Fall Classic, 2013 Under Armour Memorial Day Classic) brought the final run in with a sacrifice fly that scored Horvath to make it 6-1.
Jackson Kowar pitched the ninth inning, allowing a hit, but no further damage as the Gators dog piled onto each other as National Champions. According to NCAA.com, the University of Florida is the only school in the country to now boast national champions in football, basketball and baseball, with each sport laying claim at least once in the last 10 years.