By Jordan Zuniga
On Tuesday night, college-baseball fans saw the Florida Gators become College World Series champions for the first time ever in a 6-1 victory over the LSU Tigers.
The Gators took the minimum, two games, to eliminate the Tigers, and Florida pitcher Alex Faedo won the College World Series Most Outstanding Player.
For Florida, this championship was a bit overdue; the team has been a premier program for the past decade.
The series was the sixth Omaha appearance in eight years and the third time the Gators made it to the final round, having lost the first game of the in 2005 and 2011.
At last, Florida fans can call their team champions, and Gator fans have their pitching rotation to thank for that. All season long the pitching staff carried the Gators.
Their pitching staff finished with a team ERA of 3.48, good enough for 20th among Division 1 schools.
Throughout the season, Florida’s pitching staff had to carry the team because the offense failed to produce time and time again.
Florida finished with a team batting average of just .258, ranking it 227th among Division 1 schools.
Despite the poor hitting, the pitching staff managed to win games and to lead the team, especially in the postseason, in which they staved off elimination three times.
The most recent game came in the semifinals against TCU, which Florida won, 3-0, riding a stellar pitching performance from Faedo.
Faedo pitched 7.1 innings, giving up just 3 hits while striking out 11 in that game.
He gave way to Florida’s superstar closer Michael Byrne, who was able to get the final five outs to send his team to the finals.
The first game offered the opportunity for Brady Singer to show his talent, going seven innings and giving up only 3 runs on 8 hits with 12 strikeouts.
Florida took the game in thrilling fashion, 4-3.
That set the stage for young freshman right-hander Tyler Dyson to start the second game with the title on the line.
Florida pitcher Tyler Dyson throws against LSU during the second inning in Game 2 of the NCAA College World Series baseball finals in Omaha, Neb., Tuesday, June 27, 2017. (AP Photo/Matt Ryerson)
It wasn’t easy for Dyson, though.
LSU had its pitcher with the most wins in program history, Jared Poche, on the mound.
If Dyson was nervous, he sure didn’t show it. He went six innings giving up just 1 run and 3 hits.
The trio of Dyson, Singer, and Faedo combined to give up just 6 runs in 61.2 innings this postseason.
The Tigers had a chance to tie it in the seventh with the score was 2-1, but they came up short.
With runners on first and third with nobody out, LSU’s Michael Papierski hit a ground ball that appeared as though it was going to be an RBI double play.
But LSU’s Jake Slaughter was called for interference while sliding into second, which meant that both Slaughter and Papierski were called out and the runner on third could not advance.
That shifted the momentum in Florida’s favor and was probably the biggest call of this year’s College World Series.
Florida put the game away in the eighth, scoring four runners to make the score 6-1 heading to the ninth.
The Tigers could not catch the Gators.
After the final out, there were mixed emotions all over the ball park.
Florida players stormed the diamond, crashing into their teammates, letting the celebration start. On the other hand, LSU players were seen covering their faces and hiding the tears.
Either way, neither of the teams will forget this College World Series.