There are more than 290 teams that play Division I baseball, only one gets to dog pile in Omaha and hoist the final National Championship trophy of the collegiate season. That team won’t be the Florida Gators, but they are still the fastest team in school history to 40 wins (in 48 games), won 52 games, had eight draft picks and dozens of memorable moments since the season started in February. Let’s go back and take a look at the top 10 moments, broken up into two parts.
Sunday we started at 10 and Monday we finish our list with the top five moments from the Gators’ season.
5. JJ Schwarz goes out in grand style vs. FSU
Florida State shocked the Gators on Saturday night when they shutout Florida to take game one of the Super Regional. Florida evened the series on Sunday before a decisive game three that would send the winner to Omaha and the loser packing.
JJ Schwarz stepped to the plate with his team leading FSU 2-0. The sophomore was just 2-9 (.222) in the series to this point and 4-21 (.190) in the SEC tournament before the at bat. Pete Alonso had been powering the Florida offense throughout the NCAA Tournament, but the Gators badly needed Schwarz to provide some electricity of his own.
Schwarz took a ball to start the at bat and then sat back on a slider, launching a no-doubt grand slam, effectively shutting the door on any chance Florida State had to come back, sending Florida to Omaha and Florida State back to Tallahassee.
JJ Schwarz grand slam pic.twitter.com/zOHPebS1HL
— Nick de la Torre (@NickdelaTorreGC) June 14, 2016
4. Top-ranked Aggies get the broom
The Gators began the season as the unanimous No. 1 team in the country and remained there for most of the year. That was not the case, however, on the weekend when the Texas A&M Aggies made a trip to Gainesville.
After dropping two of three in Lexington during its first SEC road trip of the season the Gators dropped from their perch atop college baseball, replaced by Texas A&M. Florida beat FSU in Jacksonville before hosting the new top-dog, Texas A&M. Florida not only swept the Aggies, but they outscored their SEC West foe 24-13. It was a statement weekend for the Gators and they were rewarded for the sweep with a return to the No. 1 ranking.
3. Guess who’s back?
When Jordan Sheffield’s 95 MPH fastball struck Pete Alonso’s left hand, the junior thought his career at Florida was over. Alonso was forced to sit on the bench with a broken hand for 27 days, but he was determined to come back. Alonso returned to Florida for the NCAA Tournament and he didn’t wait long to announce himself. Alonso crushed a fastball over the wall in left center on the second pitch he saw against Bethune Cookman (video below)
— Nick de la Torre (@NickdelaTorreGC) June 3, 2016
Alonso went on a tear throughout the entire tournament. He hit .500 (16-32) with six home runs to end his career with the Gators. The offensive showcase on its own is impressive, but to consider what Alonso had to overcome just to get back on the field makes it a story that shouldn’t be forgotten in Gator baseball history.
2. A kid from Coon Rapids, Minnesota changes the record books
Just a freshman, Logan Shore was thrust into the Friday night role for the Gators. Being the Friday night starter is like being the opening day pitcher on a Major League team, or a team’s ace. Every time Shore took the mound he was squaring off against the other’s teams ace.
When Shore earned a complete game, two-hit, shutout win over Georgia it was his 13th consecutive victorious decision, breaking a 32-year old school record previously held by Russ Kibler, who was in attendance.
Shore’s streak ended at 17-games, but his name and his legacy will live long in Gainesville.
1. Home is where the wins are
Perry Field at McKethan Stadium served as a safe haven for the Gators. Florida when on an unbelievable 29-game winning streak at home, setting a new school record. A 10-4 Saturday night loss to Mississippi State ended the streak but from May 15, 2015- April 9, 2016, Florida was spotless at home. That included a perfect 5-0 home stand in the 2015 NCAA Tournament and five weekend sweeps, including two sweeps against SEC opponents.
In a game where one error can turn the tide of a game, or a pitcher coming in and having a good game could mean a loss, Florida just kept on winning.