JJ Schwarz and his fellow freshmen had the perfect response to anybody who said the Gators were too young to compete for a national championship.
The Gainesville Super Regional trophy, which was handed to Kevin O’Sullivan soon after his Gators had handed FSU a pair of beatdowns to claim the Sunshine State Showdown.
Across the way, legendary FSU coach Mike Martin couldn’t do a thing, as he and his players watched in silence as the Gators swarmed the field to celebrate their ninth trip to the College World Series. The Gators danced, dog piled, sprayed each other with champagne, and even did a few Tomahawk Chops. It was a celebration that hasn’t been performed since 2012, when a veteran group of Gators swept NC State to book their eighth trip to the College World Series.
Booking their ninth trip was even easier, even for a much younger team.
After a 13-5 annihilation of the Noles yesterday in Game One, the Gators faced ever so slightly more resistance from FSU today. FSU starter Mike Compton pitched a perfect first inning, while Florida’s fielders gifted the Noles with two runs on some silly errors, including Schwarz dropping the throw from Dalton Guthrie in what would have been a close play at the plate. For a little while there, it looked like the tables had turned from yesterday, where FSU’s fielders were the ones displaying a flair for botcher seldom seen on a baseball diamond.
That was just a mirage, though.
The Gators promptly responded with three runs of their own in the second, three more in the third, and two more in the fourth. And before the Noles could blink, their 2-0 lead was gone, and replaced by an 8-2 deficit that they had no shot of crawling out of. That eventually turned into an 11-4 loss for the Seminoles.
They can thank Schwarz for that. He had a rough start to the day, dropping a third strike (one that the umpire missed due to impromptu nap time) and the aforementioned throw home from Guthrie. But he taught the world a valuable lesson: any mistake he makes in the field can be overcome with one swing of his bat.
GET OUTTA HERE!!! JJ Schwarz ties the game with a BOMB https://t.co/YgRbvzkBaQ
— InAllKindsOfWeather.com (@AllKindsWeather) June 6, 2015
Peter Alonso then reached on yet another error by FSU, Jeremy Vasquez singled him to third and Guthrie followed that up with a sacrifice fly. An inning later, Richie Martin homered, Schwarz walked, Alonso tripled him home, and Vasquez singled Alonso home. The fifth inning was more of the same. Guthrie got hit by a pitch, and was promptly scored on a home run by Harrison Bader. It happened just the way I’m writing about it; no big deal.
Here’s the funny thing about the win: Florida didn’t even play that well. Not only did Florida make a few dumb mistakes in the field, Puk didn’t pitch as well as he could, either. He was missing his spots more than he usually did (though the umpire’s ridiculously erratic strike zone probably didn’t help) and gave up a towering two run homer in the fourth. Of course, that turned out to be irrelevant, because Florida was way up at that point (9-2 to be exact, and the homer made it 9-4), but it’s a footnote to Florida’s complete and utter dominance of FSU. Think about that, UF’s second best pitcher didn’t have his stuff, and Florida still won by seven runs.
Insert any FSU jokes you want here- I’ve been taunting the Seminole Nation ruthlessly on twitter since the game’s conclusion, and will continue to do so throughout the night- but that shouldn’t be the main focus. Celebrate and gloat tonight, but when you wake up tomorrow, turn your focus to the big picture- this Gator team has a chance to win a national championship, something that’s never been done before in the 100+ year history of the Gator baseball program.
This team may be young, and they may be a year away from hitting their potential. But guess what? The championship trophy is given out to the team that wins the College World Series. And thanks to a tremendous performance by this group of Gators, however young they may be, this team will be in the College World Series. Previous Gator teams have come oh so close to lifting that trophy on several occasions, and got as far as the national championship series in 2005 and then again in 2011, but got turned back each time (once by Texas, once by South Carolina).
It’s time to finally bring one of those trophies home, and erase all those years of frustration.