Reversal of fortune: Tigers rout Gators

Wyatt Langford crushes a pitch from LSU starter Thatcher Hurd for a two-run homer in the first inning of Game 3 of the College World Series Championship Final.
Wyatt Langford crushes a pitch from LSU starter Thatcher Hurd for a two-run homer in the first inning of Game 3 of the College World Series Championship Final.
Photo by Maddie Washburn/UAA Communications

On Sunday afternoon the No. 2 seed University of Florida baseball team crushed No. 5 seed LSU, 24-4, to force a final game in the College World Series.

The Gators, who were seeking their first baseball national championship since 2017, tied a CWS record with 23 hits and scored a CWS record 24 runs, including 23 unanswered at one point.

But in a winner-take-all for the national title on Monday night at Charles Schwab Field in Omaha, Nebraska, it was the LSU Tigers who had the good fortune in an 18-4 rout of the Gators.

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It was the seventh national title overall, breaking a tie with Texas for second all-time, and the first natty since 2009 for LSU (54-17).

“I really believe this will go down as one of the best teams in college baseball history,” said LSU coach Jay Johnson. “So consistent in the regular season, I think the SEC tournament is the only week of the year that we had a losing record. Not one losing week for an entire regular season, 11 wins in the postseason, six of them against SEC teams. They are a worthy champion if there ever was a worthy champion.”

A six-run second inning proved to be the difference in the game.

After Wyatt Langford’s two-run home run in the bottom of the first inning gave the Gators (54-17) an early 2-0 lead, LSU responded by sending 12 batters to the plate and scoring six runs on five hits for a 6-2 lead.

“Congratulations to LSU,” said Florida head coach Kevin O’Sullivan. “They certainly earned it today. A really good team that played one of their best games all year at the right time, and tip your cap to them. Offensively, we didn’t really have an answer for them on the mound today. I think these last three games, you know, we didn’t get as much as we probably needed to out of our starters. We put a little bit too much pressure on our bullpen early in games, and we were probably playing with fire the last couple of games. And obviously, it got to us today.”

Florida starting pitcher Jac Caglianone only threw 1.1 innings and allowed four runs on four hits with three walks and two hit batsmen.

LSU starter Thatcher Hurd (8-3) earned his second win in the series, throwing six innings and allowing only two runs on two hits, the first two batters he faced, while striking out seven.

The Tigers added plenty of insurance with a four-run fourth inning for a 10-2 lead.

Dylan Crews, Tommy White (3 RBI), and Brayden Jobert (3 RBI) each had four hits for the Tigers, who set a CWS record with 24 hits in the game.

Sophomore Ty Evans blasted his CWS record fifth home run in the bottom of the seventh, and freshman Cade Kurland drove in the final run for Florida on a solo home run in the eighth.

The Gators finished the season with a school-record 54 wins, hit 17 home runs in the CWS, matching the all-time record set by LSU and USC in 1998, and they established a program record with 145 home runs this season.

UF finished as NCAA runners-up for the third time since 2005.

“We had a great season,” O’Sullivan said. “One game is not going to define the hard work and all the accolades that our team has gotten. It’s a hard pill to swallow right now but I’m glad we had an opportunity to come back and play for a national championship and I would expect us to be in the same spot next year.”

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