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Windermere Observer Wednesday, Jun. 28, 2017 2 years ago

Trio of local alumni help Gators win 1st national title in baseball -- Observer Preps

Dr. Phillips' Ryan Larson, Olympia's Michael Byrne and TFA's Garrett Milchin are part of the Florida Gators' baseball team that won the College World Series June 27.
by: Steven Ryzewski Senior Sports Editor

GAINESVILLE The hat and t-shirt Michael Byrne wore Wednesday evening commemorated the national championship he had been a part of winning one day earlier — the first national championship for the Florida Gators baseball program.

The shorts, though — the shorts had a familiar "O" for Olympia High School.

Byrne is one of three players with local roots on the Gators team that won the College World Series June 27, defeating LSU 6-1 in Game Two of the championship series in Omaha. A day earlier, in Game One, Florida had held on for a 4-3 victory.

Joining Byrne are Dr. Phillips High alum Ryan Larson, a senior outfielder for the Gators, and Garrett Milchin, a freshman infielder and pitcher from Windermere who started his varsity career at West Orange High before completing it at The First Academy.

For Larson, a regular starter and a member of the of the Florida teams that had made the College World Series in 2015 and 2016, previously, the third time truly was the charm in Omaha.

"It was an awesome way to go out, that's for sure," Larson said at the Gators' championship celebration Wednesday on campus. "It's quite a feeling. ... Maybe, not right now, it hasn't set in, but in maybe 10 or 20 years — you can only be the first person to do something once."

Larson had one run scored, one hit and one walk during the College World Series. On the season, the former Panther hit .279 with 53 hits and 24 RBIs.

For his part, Byrne had one of the best seasons for a relief pitcher in all of college baseball in 2017, setting a program-record for saves with 19 on the year. His emergence as the closer for a national championship program is all the more remarkable considering the former Titan arrived in Gainesville as a preferred walk-on as a freshman.

"I didn't even know if I was going to come here at first — I thought I was going to go to a smaller school," Byrne recalled. "My dad told me 'if you want to be the best, play the best and come to the SEC.' So that's what I did."

Byrne's 19th save was Game One of the College World Series Finals and he also made in appearance in Game Two.

Milchin, who played his senior year at The First Academy for Scott Grove after starring for West Orange his first three seasons, had an experience as a freshman that will be hard to top. 

For his part, Milchin tossed 27 innings and compiled a 3.29 ERA. In limited plate appearances, Milchin recorded one home run and seven RBIs.

And, even though he has been with the program for just one year, the significance of what he has been a part of is not lost on the Windermere native.

"It means a lot — so many great players have come through this program," Milchin said. "I learned a ton. It was a completely new experience and it was completely different from high school (baseball)."

Contact Steven Ryzewski at [email protected].

Steven Ryzewski is the Senior Sports Editor for, as well as all three of Observer Media Group's print publications in Orange County. He is a graduate of the University of Central Florida....

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