It’s a great day to be a Tiger.
The LSU baseball team ended its season at the same spot where it began: the No. 1 team in the country, after defeating Florida 18-4 in Game 3 of the Men’s College World Series final in Omaha, Nebraska, for its seventh national championship in program history.
Despite giving up a MCWS-record 24 runs in Game 2, the Tigers bounced back in the winner-take-all game on Monday night thanks to a dominant pitching performance by starter Thatcher Hurd and offensive production up and down the lineup with every starting position player getting at least one hit.
The Tigers out-hit the Gators 24 to 5 in the decisive game and forced Florida to use six pitchers. After giving up a two-run homer to Wyatt Langford in the bottom of the first, Hurd was unhittable, giving up just the two first-inning hits and striking out seven in six innings to earn the win.
LSU turned its early two-run deficit into a four-run lead, scoring six runs in the top of the second after batting around and chasing Gators starter Jac Caglianone. The Shohei Ohtani-like Caglianone was big in the batter’s box in the Gators’ Game 2 win with two homers and five RBI.
The Tigers offense continued to pour it on, tacking on four runs in the top of the fourth, highlighted by Josh Pearson’s two-run homer to right. Catcher Alex Milazzo scored the final run of the inning, coming around to score from first base on a single by Cade Beloso. In the only bad news of the night for LSU, Milazzo had to be helped to the dugout after injuring his leg as he scored. He was replaced behind the dish by Hayden Travinski.
The Tigers scored a run in the top of the seventh on a bases loaded walk to Travinski before Ty Evans homered for Florida in the bottom of the seventh. LSU then tacked on three more in the top of the eighth, while Cade Kurland hit a solo homer for the Gators in the bottom of the frame.
LSU outfielder Dylan Crews, the 2023 Golden Spikes Award winner and the possible No. 1 pick in the 2023 MLB draft, ended his remarkable season by reaching base in each of the Tigers’ 71 games this season, going 4-for-6 with three runs scored in the final game.
The Tigers offense didn’t let down even in the ninth inning. After Crews led off with a single, third baseman Tommy White (4-7 with three RBI) drove him in with a double. White scored on a double by Tre’ Morgan (3-for-6, three runs scored), before Brayden Jobert (4-for-7, three RBI) drilled a homer to right for the final margin.
The national championship victory caps off what was a roller coaster end of the regular season for the Tigers. The preseason No. 1 team in the USA TODAY coaches poll, LSU held the top spot for the first 10 weeks of the regular season. But a 5-5 end to the regular season and 1-2 record in the SEC tournament cast uncertainty for the Tigers.
The No. 5 seed in the NCAA tournament, LSU swept its regional and super regional rounds to advance to Omaha. After falling to No. 1 Wake Forest in its second game of the MCWS, LSU needed to win three in a row to advance to the final round. The Tigers knocked out Tennessee in an elimination game, and beat Wake Forest in back-to-back games to advance to the final.
With its seventh national championship, and first since 2009, LSU is in now sole position of the second most titles in Division I baseball, breaking away from a tie with Texas. The Tigers only trail Southern California’s 12 titles for the lead.
And as if the national title win couldn’t get any sweeter, LSU fans are leaving Omaha with their own championship, after they broke Jell-O Shot Challenge record at Rocco’s Pizza and Cantina.