Wake Forest’s Danny Corona, foreground, celebrates after hitting a double against LSU in the eighth inning of a baseball game at the NCAA College World Series in Omaha, Neb., Monday, June 19, 2023. (AP Photo/Rebecca S. Gratz)
By Matthew Tallarini
World Baseball Network
OMAHA, Neb. – Wake Forest handed Louisiana State University a 3-2 loss on Monday, the Tigers first defeat at this year’s College World Series.
Wake Forest’s win has them knocking on the door of their first national championship since 1955 in their first appearance in Omaha since the year they won.
Wake Forest’s bullpen stayed in command during Monday’s win allowing one hit, walking one batter, and striking out four.
“A lot of credit goes to Moose and the analytics guys. They’re the ones who call the game. And then these two right here, I can’t speak enough about them, as humans and as pitchers,” said Wake Forest catcher Bennett Lee. “And it makes my job really fun and really easy to work for these guys.”
During the top of the third inning, LSU got on the board first as Tommy White ripped a single to center field, scoring left fielder Josh Pearson. The next batter, first baseman Tre’ Morgan, tripled when Wake Forest left fielder Adam Cecere lost the ball in the sun, scoring Pearson to extend the lead to 2-0.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, the Demon Deacons got on the scoreboard when third baseman Brock Wilken singled up the middle to score sophomore center fielder Tommy Hawke and cut the deficit to one at 2-1. The next batter, second baseman Justin Johnson, grounded into a double play, but Pierce Bennett came in to score to tie the game up at two.
LSU starting pitcher Ty Floyd threw five innings, allowing two hits, two earned runs, walking four, and striking out 10 through 97 pitches along with 21 batters faced.
Demon Deacons starter Josh Hartle threw six innings, allowing four hits, two earned runs, walking four batters, and striking out nine with 107 pitches.
“Preparing for this game we knew he presented a challenge. I thought our guys battled them pretty good,” said LSU head coach Jay Johnson. “I thought they did. He’s really hard to square up. He executed pitches down in the zone on both sides of the plate.”
During the top of the eighth, LSU threatened to break the tie when designated hitter Cade Belos’ shot to third base send Tre’ Morgan to the plate. Wake Forest third baseman Wilken homes, and catcher Bennett Lee applied the tag to get Morgan at the plate when he slid in head first.
In the bottom of the eighth inning, Wake Forest took the lead for the first time in the game as j Lee ripped an RBI single to left field, scoring sophomore designated hitter Danny Corona, and the Demon Deacons took a 3-2 lead.
“We’re a tough team, tough minded team. We don’t quit. We don’t give up,” said Wake Forest head coach Tom Walter. “These guys, as you saw when they were talking today, they don’t want to let each other down. And that’s such a powerful motivator in these situations.”
Wake Forest University will play on Wednesday night against the winner of No. 5 LSU and Tennessee at 7 p.m. EDT on ESPN. LSU will play in an elimination game against Tennessee on Tuesday at 7 p.m. EDT on ESPN.