The Gators led 2-0 in the first inning against Louisiana State on Monday, after the University of Florida went on a winner-takes-all route with the most points in tournament history in Game 3 of the Baseball College World Series Championship Series on Sunday. The poise seemed poised to win the title.
That was until LSU’s bat exploded.
In Monday’s game against Florida in Omaha, the Tigers scored six in the second and four in the fourth in an 18-4 win. It was LSU’s seventh national championship, but the first since 2009, capping off a high-scoring and unpredictable College World Series.
LSU won Game 1 of the Final Series against Florida in overtime, 4-3, but fell short of the Gators’ historic streak in Game 2, losing 24-4. The Tigers turned the tide on Monday with star outfielder Dylan Cruz’s 4-for-6 performance.
“Winning this trophy is something I’ve dreamed of since I was a freshman,” Cruz said in a televised interview after the game. “It’s the best feeling in the world.”
Florida’s pitching staff has allowed fewer than four runs per game in their five previous CWS games, giving up just one at the worst possible time. and had only one-third of an inning and allowed six earned runs. The bullpen was even worse and he conceded 12 points to go.
LSU has previously faced Florida in the CWS Championship Series. In 2017, the Gators wiped out the Tigers. LSU has seven CWS titles, the second-most after Southern California and its 12 titles.
A series featuring three players who are expected to be nominated for first place this summer. MLB Draft: Crew; LSU teammate, pitcher Paul Skenes; and Florida outfielder Wyatt Langford.
Cruz won the Golden Spike Award on Sunday as the nation’s best amateur baseball player. He proved why on Monday, making two stunning catches in the third inning (one of which sprinted into the left field wall to pick up Florida second baseman Cade Kurland’s long fly). I had to jump) and hit a triple in the eighth inning.
The Tigers extended their lead to eight in the fourth to seal the win, but it also came with a loss — catcher Alex Milazzo leapt past Gators catcher BT Liopere to reach home plate for 10. 2.
After making two errors in Game 2 and struggling to find a rhythm, LSU shortstop Jordan Thompson recovered in Game 3. Thompson went 0-for-9 in the first two games of the championship series, but had three RBIs on Monday. He makes a lot of defensive plays. By the time he came to bat in the top of the fifth, the crowd was calling his name.
The pitching of the Tigers also stabilized after the unforgettable second game. Right-hander Thatcher Hurd allowed a home run in the first inning but quickly bounced back to shut out Florida over the next five innings as the Gators struggled to hit a curveball, striking out seven total.
“Perhaps more impressive than winning a national championship is that they were national champions every day,” LSU coach Jay Johnson said after the game. “They had high expectations all season and they lived up to it. They met every day.”
When Johnson started managing the Tigers last season, he started a new tradition. To emphasize to the team how hard it is to win a baseball game, he would take a picture of the team every time they won, regardless of the outcome of the game.
After 14 years without a national title for LSU, cameras flashed on Monday night as the Tigers dived into Inuyama.