Jun 9, 2024; Clemson, SC, USA; The Florida Gators pose for a photo after their win against Clemson in the NCAA baseball Clemson Super Regional at Doug Kingsmore Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Ruinard - USA TODAY Sports

Pat Dooley’s Back Nine: Florida Baseball Pulls Off Stunner

The Back Nine comes at you after an incredible weekend that included a little bit of everything: golf, birdwatching and, oh yes, some baseball games.

10. No words. No words are possible to explain how Kevin O’Sullivan has taken this team to Omaha. This Florida team won what is arguably the best game in the history of the program because its star was a star and the role players played their roles. Dale Thomas with a sacrifice bunt. Brody Donay with a big fly. And, of course, Mikey Robertson, who lives for the postseason. I thought this would be a team that wouldn’t get out of the Stillwater Regional. Instead, these Gators went into two incredibly difficult environments and scratched and clawed their way to another trip to college baseball’s concrete cathedral. I am just stunned.

11. And incredibly happy for Sully. He talked in the preseason about how he thought this could be a great team and as the year went along nobody felt the same way. Struggled to find a starter he could trust, bounced Brandon Neely back and forth from starter to closer, strained to find a leadoff hitter … and a three-hole guy. We all know that your season is defined by what you do in June in this sport. Florida in June may be sweltering, but the charter to Omaha will be air conditioned.

12. So, if Georgia wins Monday night’s game and punches the final ticket to Omaha, the SEC will have five of the eight teams (with the ACC having the other three). Part of the reason is because both conferences had great regular seasons and were able to host.

13. By the way, how frustrating was it when ESPN lost the centerfield camera for a couple of the extra innings? The good thing was that we had Dave Neal on the game, one of the best in the business. Believe me, I watched a lot of baseball this weekend and ESPN was all over it, but some of the announcers were more interested in getting the feature stories out of the way early while games were still undecided. Just a pet peeve of mine.

14. I waited too long to get to track and field. I know. Congrats to Mouse Holloway, who should seriously have a statue built except he probably wouldn’t pose for it. Too modest. Hey, Modest Mouse, I love that group. Anyway, his men’s team won the NCAA Outdoors for his 12th men’s title and three in a row. And the Gators won it on the last race by ONE POINT! Holy mackerel! Florida now has nine – count ’em, nine – top five finishes in the NCAA this year. It truly is an everything school. If they could only get good at football.

15. And Holloway’s women lost the title in the last race and still finished second in the country. Not too shabby. Parker Valby became the first woman to win all five NCAA events (cross country, indoor 3,000 and 5,000, outdoor 5,000 and 10,000). And she doesn’t even look like she’s sweating.

16. My new nickname for Scottie Scheffler is the “Big Teasy.” He has a big lead, people are getting bored, let me make a triple bogey. And once everyone is watching, I’ll stuff a couple of iron shots close to the pin and make everybody play for second. Tiger used to do that. I want to be excited for the U.S. Open this week at Pinehurst, but he might just make it boring.

17. Oh, you were wondering about my birdwatching? Hey, my wife is really into it so we went on a two-hour pontoon boat ride on Lake Santa Fe, which was lovely. And on Friday, Patrick Jenkins hosted my brother and I down at Club Adena, which was incredible. Adena is back, believe me, and I talked Tim into playing from the back tees on the 747-yard hole out there. I think we both pulled hammys.

18. I seriously had a plan Sunday to watch the Gator baseball game and then go play golf. A 5½-hour game put that on hold, but not this playlist:

WRUF.com sports columnist Pat Dooley can be heard on “The Tailgate” along with Jeff Cardozo from 4-6 p.m. Monday-Friday on 98.1-FM/AM-850 WRUF.

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