After Florida forced a Game 3 winner in College Baseball’s World Series by scoring the most runs in tournament history on Sunday, the Gators took a 2-0 lead over Louisiana State at halftime on Monday and looked poised to capture the title.
That was until LSU’s offense got into action.
The Tigers scored six runs in the second inning and four in the fourth on their way to an 18-4 victory over Florida on Monday in Omaha. It was LSU’s seventh national championship but its first since 2009, capping what was a high-scoring and unpredictable College World Series.
LSU won Game 1 of the final series against Florida in extra innings, 4-3, but could not match the Gators’ historic strike in Game 2, losing 24-4. The Tigers turned the tables on Monday, led by a 4-for-6 performance from their star player, Dylan Cruz.
“It’s what I’ve dreamed of since I was a freshman, and carrying this trophy,” Cruz said in a televised post-game interview. “It’s the best feeling in the world.”
The Florida Staff stumbled at the worst of times, after allowing less than four runs per game in its previous five CWS games, starting pitcher Jack Caglianone, who leads the Gators in home runs, lasted only one innings and a third. and allowing six earned runs. The bullpen fared worse, surrendering 12 runs the rest of the way.
LSU has faced Florida in the CWS Championship Series before. In 2017, the Gators sent the Tigers on a sweep. With seven CWS titles, LSU ranks second behind only Southern California and 12th.
The series featured three players expected to be selected first this summer MLB draft: crews. fellow LSU Paul Skenes, a pitcher; and Florida player Wyatt Langford.
Crews won the Golden Spikes Award on Sunday, crowning him the best amateur baseball player in the country. He proved why on Monday, hitting two amazing third-inning home runs—including one that required him to run into the left field wall and jump to collect a long fly by Florida second baseman Kady Kurland—and hit a triple in the eighth.
The Tigers sealed their win in the fourth by extending their lead to eight runs, but it came with a loss – catcher Alex Milazzo had to be carried off the field after jumping over Gators catcher PT Riopelle to reach home plate and make it 10-2.
After committing two errors in Game 2 and struggling to find rhythm, LSU shortstop Jordan Thompson redeemed himself in Game 3. Thompson was 0-for-9 in the first two games of the championship series, but collected three RBI on Monday while also making a number of defensive plays. By the time he got to the plate in the top of the fifth inning, the crowd was chanting his name.
The Tigers’ pitching also settled after Game 2 of Oblivion. Right-handed Thatcher Hurd allowed a home run in the first inning but immediately rebounded, Florida shutting out the next five innings and recording seven total strikeouts, as the Gators struggled to hit the break ball.
“Perhaps more impressive than winning the national championship is that they were national champions every single day,” LSU head coach Jay Johnson said after the game. “These guys had tremendous expectations all season, and they met them. They met them every day.”
When Johnson began managing the Tigers last season, he started a new tradition: taking a group photo after every victory, regardless of the outcome of the game, to emphasize to his team just how hard it is to win a baseball game.
It’s been 14 years without LSU winning a national title, but when the Tigers jumped the dog Monday night, the cameras were blinking.
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