Putting It In Context
Getting ready for this weekend I started wondering about how I would rank a win in the Super Regional among the biggest in school history. It's not as easy as you might think. Florida has been to the College World Series four times and has beaten FSU in Omaha three times. Florida has won five SEC Tournament titles and ten conference championships.
With the Gators having a pretty rich a history ranking wins is a challenge, but someone has to do it.
Five Biggest Wins in Gator Baseball History
5. June 4, 1996----- Florida beats FSU 6-3 at the College World Series in Omaha. I rank this the Gators' biggest of three wins over the ‘Noles at Rosenblatt Stadium because it left the Gators as one of four teams remaining in the running for the National Title. Mike Martin dubbed Florida's sensational freshman Brad Wilkerson "superboy" after he beat FSU earlier in the week on a Grand Slam. This game however saw Chuck Hazzard play super hero. His two homers and solid pitching from Tommy Bond got the Gators the win.
4. June 4, 1991----- I guess June 4th is a good day to be a Gator. Joe Arnold put together a fine ball club in '91 and might have won it all if not for the %$*&! LSU Tigers. On this day, Marc Valdes pitched a masterpiece eliminating Fresno State 2-1. It was the Gators school-record 51st win of the year.
3. June 5, 1988----- Staying in Omaha, this game is extra-special to me personally because I got to call it on the radio. But it is more special to the Gator program because on this day, Florida beat California 6-5 for the Gators first win at the CWS. Johnny Wiggs did the job on the mound as Florida avoided elimination. On the Gators' first trip to Omaha they showed they belonged on this day.
2. May 26, 1991--- Florida hosted a Regional for just the second time in school history, but on this day, the Gators won a Regional at home. Florida won three straight to open the event, and had two chances to beat North Carolina State and advance to Omaha. A 3-2, ten-inning win got the job done. It was the first time Gator fans got to see their team reach Omaha at Perry Field.
1. May 29, 1988----- Before this day going to the College World Series was just a dream. The Gators had come close, most recently in 1985 when they were six outs from beating Miami in Coral Gables. But on this evening in Tallahassee, Florida routed a worn out Stetson team by an 8-nothing count to earn the first trip to the CWS. Mario Linares smashed a three-run homer to put the game in hand, prompting yours truly to blurt out on the air, "start packing the bags!"
Some of you might have other games in mind and I'd love to hear about it. To me, a Gator win this weekend would rank no higher than # 2 on the list. For a Gator win to be bigger than the one that put Florida in the CWS for the very first time, it would have to send the Gators to the NCAA Championship game. Of course, if/when that happens, that win might only be the biggest in school history for a day or two.