College World Series: Florida Forces Game Three With 24-4 Win Over LSU

Jac Caglianone of the Florida Gators celebrates with teammates after hitting a home run during the seventh inning of Game 2 of the NCAA College World Series baseball finals against the LSU Tigers at Charles Schwab Field on June 25, 2023 in Omaha, Nebraska. Florida defeated LSU 24-4. (Photo by Jay Biggerstaff/Getty Images)

By Matthew Tallarini
World Baseball Network

OMAHA, Neb. – The Florida Gators forced a deciding game three in the College World Series final by defeating the Louisiana State University Tigers 24-4 on Sunday afternoon in game two of the National Championship Series. 

Florida’s 24 runs on Sunday broke the most ever in a Men’s College World Series game. The previous record of 23 was set by Notre Dame vs. Northern Colorado in 1957 and Arizona State vs. Oklahoma State in 1984.

“We swung the bats really good today. And the wind was in our favor. It was obviously a tight game to start. And then we just swung the bats extremely well,” said Florida head coach Kevin O’Sullivan. 

Florida’s hopes for their second national championship remain intact, and they’ll face LSU again Monday night at 7 p.m. ET. The Gators have not won a national title since they defeated LSU in the 2017 College World Series final. LSU can win their seventh title and their first since 2009, when they defeated the Texas Longhorns. 

The Gators are playing in the College World Series Finals for the fourth time in team history and did not hoist the national title in their two other appearances in 2005 losing to Texas and in 2011 losing South Carolina and will look to be 2-2 in their four appearances in program history. 

Florida relief pitcher Nick Ficarrotta came up big for the Gators on Sunday, throwing five innings and allowing three hits, one earned run, no walks, and striking out two in Florida’s crucial win. 

Gators relief pitcher Blake Purnell recorded his second win of the season in his 16th appearance throwing 1.2 innings with no hits allowed, no earned runs, walking two batters, and no strikeouts. 

“Credit their relievers,” LSU head coach Jay Johnson said following the game. “They executed some pitches that made it hard on some guys for us that have been swinging the bat really well.”  

“Our bullpen has been really solid throughout the whole postseason. They’ve really done a great job stepping up for us as hitters when our production rates aren’t too, too high,” said Florida first baseman Jac Caglianone. 

LSU starting pitcher Nate Ackenhausen worked himself out of a jam in the top of the first inning after he gave up an infield single to Florida leadoff hitter Cade Kurkland and walked center fielder Wyatt Langford, a likely first round 2023 Major League Baseball Draft pick. Ackenhausen struck out catcher BT Riopelle looking for the final out of the inning with no harm done. 

LSU center fielder Dylan Crews, who earlier in the afternoon was named the winner of the 2023 Golden Spikes Award, led off the bottom of the first with a single to left field. Three batters later, second baseman Gavin Dugas ripped a double to right center field and Crews came in to score. 

During the top of the second inning, the Gators tied the game up at one when sophomore right fielder Ty Evans launched a solo home run down the left field line to make it 1-1. 

In the bottom of the second inning, the Bayou Bengals took the lead once again as sophomore third baseman Tommy White ripped an RBI single into the right center field gap, scoring left fielder Josh Pearson to go up 2-1. 

The next batter, junior first baseman Tre Morgan lofted a sacrifice fly to left field, scoring Crews to extend the lead to 3-1. 

During the top of the third inning, the Gators exploded for six runs, starting with first baseman Jac Caglianone single up the middle that scored Kurkland. The next batter, shortstop Josh Rivera, tied the game up at three with an RBI single to left field that sent Langford home. 

That prompted LSU head coach Jay Johnsont to lift Ackenhausen, who threw 2.1 innings, allowing five hits, three earned runs, walking one, and striking out five before handing the ball off to Gavin Guidry. 

A few batters later, Evans came up with the bases and launched a grand slam down the left field line that hung in the air and barely stayed fair, resulting in his fourth home run, good for the lead at the 2023 College World Series, as the Gators took a 7-3 lead. 

Gators starting pitcher Hurston Waldrep pitch count was starting to tick up during Sunday’s game two as he threw 2.1 innings allowing four hits, three earned runs, walking six batters, and striking out two facing 19 batters with 83 pitches. 

In the top of the sixth inning, the Gators added more insurance runs as Langford launched a 449-foot three-run home run that landed two rows short of the left field concourse, his 20th of the season, as Florida took an 11-3 lead. 

The Gators had back-back home runs during the sixth. Caglianone launched a solo home run to left center field for his 32nd of the season, extending the lead to 12-3. Caglianone tied the BBCOR bat-era record set by Ivan Melendez of Texas in 2022 and broke Kris Byrant’s home run record set with the University of San Diego in 2013. 

In the top of the eighth inning, Caglianone stepped to plate looking to continue to beat down from the LSU pitching staff as he launched a two-run home run in to the right field bullpen and broke the BBCOR bat-era record set by Melendez and mounting the lead to 16 runs at 19-3. 

Langford during Sunday’s game went 5-for-5 with six RBI and two doubles. Caglianone finished the game with three hits and five RBI during his offensive outburst. 

Evans final stats in his offensive showcase consisted of three hits and five RBI during the Gators game two victory. 

The offensive display the Gators put on with the home run tally did not stop in the top of the ninth inning as catcher BT Riopelle launched a solo home run over the center field wall for the sixth home run of the game for Florida as they swamped their 20th run of the game and making it 20-3. 

The Gators hitting six home runs on Sunday became the first team to ever hit five or more home runs in the history of Charles Schwab Field since the ballpark opened in 2011.

The LSU bullpen during the 20 run differential loss let up 17 earned runs, 17 hits, walking five batters, and striking out nine in game two of the national championship series. 

Game three of the national championship series will be at 7 p.m. EDT on ESPN Monday night.

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