Score for LSU vs. Florida, key takeaways: Tigers defeat. Baseball’s NCAA championship is at stake for the Gators in the College World Series
OMAHA, Nebraska — As the preseason consensus No. 1 baseball team, LSU’s 2023 baseball season got off to a rocky start. 1 in each major poll. In an Omaha dog poop near the mound, those expectations were met at the conclusion.
LSU won the Division I national championship for 2023 with an 18-4 victory over Florida in Game 3 of the Men’s College World Series finals on Monday night.
One night after the Tigers themselves were dominated 24-4 in Game 2, LSU put on a dominating performance with 23 hits.
When star Florida outfielder Wyatt Langford hit a two-run home run to left field in Game 3, LSU fell behind early. However, LSU quickly responded by scoring six runs in the second without an extra-base hit in the following half inning. Due in part to left fielder Josh Pearson’s fourth home run of the season, the Tigers increased their lead with a four-run fourth inning. The runs went on and on.
Throughout, LSU starter Thatcher Hurd settled in, recorded outs, and provided the Tigers with more time than they probably anticipated after the first inning. Hurd pitched six innings, gave up just two runs while striking out seven and walking two. Due to a sizeable lead in the first inning that steadily grew throughout Game 3, LSU head coach Jay Johnson did not have to call on star right-hander Paul Skenes. Skenes, who threw eight innings and 120 pitches in the crucial victory over Wake Forest on Thursday, was available as a reliever; however, Johnson decided that Skenes’ services were not required.
LSU and Florida will finish the season with identical 54-17 records based on Game 3’s outcome.
The fact that LSU’s catcher Alex Milazzo fractured his shin in the fourth inning while scoring a run is one disadvantage. However, it appears that he will not require surgery.
Here are some takeaways from the college baseball season’s final game in 2023.
The pivotal moment occurred in the second inning, when Florida’s starting pitcher and two-way star Jac Caglianone appeared to be in command. In particular, the potent top of the LSU order in that first inning was baffled by his big fastball:
However, Caglianone lost control after being pushed to a 2-0 lead in the second. That is not unusual considering that prior to Game 3, he had walked 52 batters in 731 innings, struck out 12 more, and thrown nine wild pitches. That can be a bad quality in any situation, but it’s especially bad against the LSU offense, which is known for its plate discipline.
Indeed, Caglianone sparked LSU’s comeback with three walks, a hit batter, and a wild pitch before being removed in the second with one out. LSU was able to score six runs in the inning thanks to all of that traffic and five singles. All six were assigned to Caglianone, who ended up striking out only half of his 46 pitches.
LSU had a basic win expectancy of just 25.3% going into the second quarter to win it all. The Tigers had an 81.3 percent chance of winning the national championship when Jordan Thompson flied out to end the half-inning.
Crews had an impact LSU center fielder Dylan Crews and Skenes are likely to be the top two MLB Draft picks (Florida’s Langford may go No. 3). Crews contributed to the Tiger cause in multiple ways, even though Skenes did not play in his final college game.
Crews went 4 for 6 with a triple and a walk in his final game as a collegian, extending his on-base streak to 75 games. Crews made a clever catch in the third inning, leaping into the wall with the glove, to steal extra bases from Colby Halter.
Crews’ catch was crucial because two of the next three batters would reach before Hurd could escape.
Even though the Gators lost, right fielder Ty Evans made history by striking out LSU reliever Riley Cooper in the seventh inning. As a result, he made some history:
Evans has now hit five home runs in this MCWS, breaking the previous record for the most in a single tournament. It’s even more remarkable that Evans only had four home runs on the season going into Omaha.
It is LSU’s seventh baseball national championship out of their 19 College World Series appearances. LSU has won seven national championships. The Tigers also won the belt and title in 2009, 2000, 1997, 1996, 1993, and 1991 under second-year head coach Jay Johnson. LSU and Texas shared six titles prior to Monday night’s outcome. With 12 titles, Southern Cal is now the only team with more. However, the Trojans haven’t won it all since 1998.
Florida, coincidentally, is preventing them from winning eight titles. In the MCWS finals in 2017, they defeated LSU to win their first and only national championship.
We already knew that the Southeastern Conference would win another championship on Monday, but now it’s official because LSU and Florida are both members of the SEC. LSU is the fourth SEC team to win the DI baseball championship in a row, followed by Ole Miss in 2022, Mississippi State in 2021, and Vanderbilt in 2019. Due to COVID, there was no MCWS in 2020.) The SEC has won six of the last nine baseball championships and five of the last six. The fact that the SEC has sent at least one team to the MCWS final in each of the last 14 years is perhaps the most impressive statistic.
If this holds true in 2024, don’t be surprised. However, for the time being, LSU probably isn’t quite ready to leave in 2023.