OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Maybe this wasn’t Florida coach Kevin O’Sullivan’s best team. It is, however, his first national championship team.
A year after the Gators went two games and out at the College World Series with a team seeded No. 1 and loaded with high draft picks, they won five of six in Omaha and completed a sweep of Southeastern Conference rival LSU in the finals with a 6-1 victory Tuesday night.
The Gators scored four runs in the eighth inning to pull away and now, for the first time in the program’s 103-year history, the championship trophy will be with the team when it travels back to Gainesville.
“Just a gritty group, that’s all I can say,” said O’Sullivan, the 10th-year coach who had brought the Gators to Omaha six of the last eight years. “There are other teams that may be bigger and stronger, our starting pitching has carried us the whole year, but we got some timely hits.”
Florida (52-19) posted the eighth sweep in the 15 years of the best-of-three finals format, and first since 2013. LSU (52-20) lost for the first time in seven appearances in a championship game.
Florida was in the CWS for the 11th time and previously had made it to the finals in 2005 and 2011, getting swept each time.
“They’re a very deserving national champion,” LSU coach Paul Mainieri said. “I’m happy for Kevin. He works hard, and he has had several teams that maybe were even better than this team and sat up here as disappointed as I am right now. Finally got his championship.”
O’Sullivan got creative for the final game, sending freshman Tyler Dyson to the mound for only his second start and calling on Jackson Kowar, who would have been the starter if a Game 3 had been necessary, to…