2017 College World Series: Florida Gators beat LSU Tigers to win first national baseball title

By The Sports Xchange

There is going all-in, and then there is doing what Florida coach Kevin O'Sullivan did Tuesday night.

A reliever started. The closer came in during the top of the seventh, and then was hooked for a starter who was scheduled to pitch a potential Game 3 on Wednesday night.


O'Sullivan might as well have been a poker player pushing all his chips into the middle of the table. And the cards came up right for him.

Surprise starter Tyler Dyson gave up just one run over six-plus innings as the third-seeded Gators won their first College World Series in 11 tries, bumping off fourth-seeded LSU 6-1 in Omaha, Neb., to claim the national baseball title.

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"I'm just so happy for our players," O'Sullivan said after the Gators won the best-of-three championship series 2-0. "It's all about them and their hard work. I don't think anybody thought we would get to this point. There are other teams who might be bigger and stronger, but this is such a gutty group."


Resourceful is another word that could apply to Florida, particularly in the way Sullivan deployed his pitching. Dyson relieved in 22 of his previous 23 appearances, but with the Gators having used their top starters -- Alex Faedo and Brady Singer -- in their previous two games, Dyson got the call.

He more than held his own, getting to the seventh inning with a two-hit shutout and a 2-0 lead. However, after Dyson allowed a leadoff single to Zach Watson and fell behind Josh Smith 2-0 on his 75th pitch, O'Sullivan took the ball and gave it to closer Michael Byrne.

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Smith greeted Byrne with a run-scoring double and then moved to third on a single by Jake Slaughter. The Tigers appeared to tie the game when Smith crossed the plate on Michael Papierski's 4-6-3 double-play bouncer.

However, second base umpire Steve Mattingly called interference on Slaughter on his slide into shortstop Dalton Guthrie. Smith was sent back to third, and the tying run was taken off the board. Beau Jordan lined out to center for the third out, and Florida maintained the lead.

An inning later, O'Sullivan reached for the dice again. Kramer Robertson led off the LSU eighth with a single and reached second on a wild pitch. Cole Freeman bunted for a hit, and the Tigers had men at the corners again.

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Byrne fanned Antoine Duplantis. O'Sullivan then hooked Byrne for Jackson Kowar, who hadn't relieved in a game since last year.

Kowar got Greg Deichmann to hit a grounder to first. Robertson tried to score, but JJ Schwarz's throw erased him on a close play. Watson then lined to center for the third out.

"It was do-or-die for us to figure it out," O'Sullivan said. "LSU has one of the best lineups in the country."

Florida's less-heralded lineup broke it open against freshman reliever Zack Hess in its half of the eighth, scoring four runs to end the suspense.

Nick Horvath was nicked by a curve with the bases loaded to make it 3-1. Deacon Liput singled up the middle for two runs, and Schwarz capped the rally with a sacrifice fly.

Kowar got the last five outs for the save.

Faedo, who didn't allow a run over 14 1/3 innings in two CWS starts and fanned 22, was named the Most Outstanding Player.

"It's an unreal feeling right now," he said.

The Gators (52-19) got unearned runs in each of the first two innings as the Tigers (52-20) committed a whopping three errors. Liput reached on a miscue to start the first and scored two batters later on Schwarz's single.


Horvath was picked off first for what could have been the third out of the second inning, but first baseman Nick Coomes' error enabled him to reach second. Liput converted that mistake into a 2-0 lead with an RBI single.

Jared Poche (12-4) was tagged with the loss despite not allowing an earned run in 5 2/3 innings. Poche yielded two unearned runs on seven hits. He walked one and fanned three.

Dyson (4-0) gave up three hits and a run, issued two walks and struck out two.

NOTES: LSU lost for the first time in seven occasions after reaching the championship game or championship series of the CWS. ... Florida finished the CWS with an errorless streak of 50 innings. ... The game drew a crowd of 26,607, the fifth-largest audience in the history of TD Ameritrade Park. ... The Gators became the only school to win national championships in football, men's basketball and baseball in the past 50 years.

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