The latest great Gator day — the one in Omaha — jumped right to the head of an eventful pack. The UF baseball team collective hoists the NCAA championship trophy after sweeping LSU in the College World Series. GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The 2016-17 Florida Gators athletic season finished with a bang.
Think about it. Mere hours from the Memorial Day weekend, UF was without an NCAA championship for its fiscal-year calendar. Over the course of the next month, the Gators captured a trio of national titles and played for another to cap a memorable 10 months.
Over the next three days, FloridaGators.com will review and relive the highlights of ’16-17, starting with this installment of the Top 10 team moments, followed by a look back at the 10 individual moments that won’t be forgotten, plus the year’s best photos, courtesy of staff photographer Tim Casey and his staff, after that.
You may disagree with the rankings. You may feel some team or someone has been slighted. That’s OK.
But we can all agree these instances will endure in UF athletic lore.
1) WORLD SERIES CHAMPS, AT LAST — NCAA Baseball (@NCAACWS) June 28, 2017 The Gators had taken better teams to the College World Series, including several under the guidance of recruiting warlord Kevin O’Sullivan . His 2017 squad probably didn’t have the resume of his previous six that reached Omaha, but those teams didn’t have Alex Faedo or Brady Singer or Michael Byrne or Tyler Dyson on the mound, nor the flair for the big moment like this bunch that brought home the hardware by sweeping Southeastern Conference rival LSU in the CWS championship series.
Faedo was spectacular in firing 14 1/3 scoreless innings in Games 1 and 3, both wins over Texas Christian, that allowed the Gators to reach the title series. In the opener against LSU, it was Singer keeping the Tigers at bay, allowing UF to build a lead, and Byrne staving off a late rally for a 4-3 win that marked Florida’s 19th one-run victory of the season.
In Game 2 of the finals, O’Sullivan went with Dyson, the freshman who came to the rescue in the rain-ravaged Super Regional against Wake Forest. In just the second start of his career, Dyson limited LSU to just one run and three hits before Byrne and Jackson Kowar worked the final three innings in scoreless fashion and — after the Gators, with a precarious 2-1 lead, erupted for four runs in the bottom of the eighth — dog-piled into Florida sport history when Kowar induced a groundout to put a 6-1 win in the books.
It was Florida’s first NCAA title in baseball in the program’s 103-year history. The Gators also became the first SEC school to win national championships in football, basketball and baseball — the so-called Big Three — and the nation’s only Division-I program to do so over the last 50 years.
2) SAY CHEEZ!
The play didn’t win a championship, but as far as moments go it was as […]