Gator Fans Turn Out to Welcome Home National Champions

The UF baseball team, less than 24 hours after celebrating on the field in Omaha, joined fans on its home field to celebrate Wednesday night. The Gators pose for a historic selfie on Tuesday night after winning the program’s first national championship. (Photo: Tim Casey/UAA Staff Photographer) GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Six hours after the Gators’ team bus rolled past TD Ameritrade Park on Wednesday afternoon on the way to the Omaha airport – no Game 3 necessary – they gathered at McKethan Stadium.

They were sleepy eyed and unshaven, running on fumes. Nevertheless, once they entered the stadium through the giant inflated Gator head down the left field line, the party continued.

Approximately 2,500 fans turned out on a hot and humid North Florida night to welcome the University of Florida baseball team home after it won the program’s first national championship on Tuesday night, defeating LSU 6-1 to sweep the best-of-three College World Series Final.

"It’s pretty amazing,” Gators shortstop Dalton Guthrie said. "I don’t think it’s set in yet. There wasn’t much sleep, but a lot of happy teammates. This is what we worked for these past three years."

Making their 11th trip to the CWS – and sixth in eight years under head coach Kevin O’Sullivan – the Gators brought home their first national championship trophy behind starting pitching, defense and timely hitting.

The Gators faced their difficulties during the season, but with the championship on the line, they beat Southeastern Conference rival LSU on back-to-back nights at a stadium packed with Tigers fans. "Nothing really compares you for 25,000 screaming LSU fans,” Guthrie said. "It seems like everyone is against you. We found a way. We just stayed calm."

The Gators definitely found a way, winning 32 of their final 40 games to finish 52-19. It’s the first time in school history the Gators have posted 50-win seasons in three consecutive seasons.

CWS Most Outstanding Player Alex Faedo was dominant in Omaha, tossing 14 1/3 scoreless innings in two victories against Texas Christian. Faedo held the championship trophy on Wednesday night as fans joined the Gators on the field.

The emotions of the past 24 hours remained fresh for the first-round pick of the Detroit Tigers.

"It’s been an awesome experience,” he said. "This is a special team and one that made some history."

Faedo and teammates Brady Singer , Mike Rivera , Deacon Liput and head coach Kevin O’Sullivan joined Gators radio analyst Jeff Cardozo at the microphone when the team first arrived on the field.

They reminisced about winning the CWS and how the season unfolded for several minutes, and then fans joined the players and coaches on the field for a meet-and-greet. Lines quickly formed as they signed autographs, took photos and shared stories about the season.

"I’m glad we got it done for ourselves and everybody in Gainesville and everybody at the University of Florida,” Rivera said. "I know how hard we worked."O’Sullivan praised the players for the way they never stopped believing despite bumps in the road such as opening the SEC […]