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College World Series: LSU Tigers Beat Wake Forest, Stay Alive

 Leif Skodnick - World Baseball Network  |    Jun 22nd, 2023 6:35am EDT

LSU’s Dylan Crews dives safely back into first base ahead of the tag from Wake Forest’s Nick Kurtz (8) in the seventh inning of a baseball game at the NCAA College World Series in Omaha, Neb., Wednesday, June 21, 2023. LSU won 5-2. (AP Photo/Rebecca S. Gratz)

By Matthew Tallarini
World Baseball Network

OMAHA, Neb. – The Louisiana State University Tigers’ hopes of a national championship live on for another day at the 2023 NCAA Division I College World Series after they beat the Wake Forest University Demon Deacons 5-2 Wednesday night. 

Wake Forest’s pitching staff has the best team ERA in the country at 2.81, and also has the highest strikeout-to-walk-ratio at 4.29 despite having the most walks in the country at 416. 

“Great performance tonight by our team. Thought it was a great team win. Had a little bit of adversity early in the game there, and really responded offensively. In the second inning, we took some really good at-bats,” said LSU Tigers head coach Jay Johnson. 

LSU will play on Thursday at 7 p.m. EDT on ESPN against Wake Forest with a berth in the College World Series final on the line. 

In the top of the second inning, the Demon Deacons got on the scoreboard first when center fielder Tommy Hawke ripped a two-run single up the middle, scoring Bennett Lee and Pierce Bennett as Wake Forest took a 2-0 lead.

Jay Johnson did not waste any time to go to his bullpen early, lifting starter Javen Coleman after 1.1 innings where Coleman allowed one hit, two earned runs, walking four, and striking out two facing nine batters. 

In the bottom of the second inning, LSU got on the board when junior right fielder Brayden Jobert laced a double down the right field line, scoring Cade Beloso to score to make it 2-1. 

During the bottom of the third inning, during Beloso’s at-bat, the Tigers tied the game up at two apiece as center fielder Dylan Crews came in to score on a wild pitch to tie the game up at two. 

A few moments later, Beloso drove a three-run home run into the right field bullpen, sending second baseman Gavin Dugas and first baseman Tre’ Morgan in to score as the Bayou Bengals took a 5-2 lead. 

Wake Forest starting pitcher Seith Keener threw four innings, allowing four hits, five earned runs, walking three batters, and striking out four facing 19 batters along with dropping his second loss of the season at 8-2. 

Tiger’s relief pitcher Griffin Herring pitched lights out of the bullpen as he threw 4.2 innings allowing three hits, no earned runs, walking one batter, and striking out six during his performance along with receiving the win improving to 5-2 of the season. 

“Herring came in and threw well. He was kind of effectively wild. He would have big misses then he’d locate. And he’s got a good arm. He’s got good stuff,” said Wake Forest head coach Tom Walter. “We just didn’t kind of force him to get in the zone enough and didn’t kind of grind and stay inside baseballs as much as we needed to do on a day like this.” 

In the top of the ninth, Tigers relief pitcher Riley Cooper completed a four-out save to close the game for the Tigers, and he got Wake Forest second baseman Justin Johnson to ground to third baseman Tommy White for the final out of the game.  

“It’s just another game. We’re not going to make it anything bigger than it is. It’s the same game we’ve been playing since February. We’re going to go out there, have fun, we’re going to compete to the best of our abilities and let the rest take care of itself,” said Tigers designated hitter Cade Beloso. “But we’re not going to make it some massive thing. Today, everybody knows the scenario. But you don’t have to put any more pressure on yourself. Just go out there and have fun.”

LSU and Wake Forest return to Charles Schwab Field for Thursday night’s show down at 7 p.m. EDT for a berth for the national championship series against the Florida Gators. Game 1 of the final is scheduled for Saturday at 7 p.m. EDT on ESPN. 

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Leif Skodnick - World Baseball Network