Paul Skenes of the LSU Tigers greets fans after winning the NCAA College World Series baseball finals against the Florida Gators at Charles Schwab Field on June 26, 2023 in Omaha, Nebraska. (Photo by Jay Biggerstaff/Getty Images)
By Matthew Tallarini
World Baseball Network
OMAHA, Neb. – The Louisiana State University Tigers won their seventh national championship in program history and their first since 2009, beating the University of Florida Gators 18-4 on Monday night in game three College World Series final.
LSU lost to Florida during the 2017 National Championship Series. This year was payback to their SEC rival.
“I don’t know where to start. I’ll do the best I can with this,” said LSU head coach Jay Johnson. “The national championship team, I think the most gratifying part of it is they were national championship people every single day of this thing.”
The Florida bullpen gave up 12 earned runs, 22 hits, walking five batters, and striking out six.
Tigers starter Thatcher Hurd threw six innings, allowing two earned runs, two hits, walking two batters, and striking out seven for LSU, and Riley Cooper continued his stretch of success, as he pitched one inning, allowing one earned run, one hit with just ten pitches.
Tigers freshman relief pitcher Gavin Guidry closed the door the final two innings as he got Gators junior Colby Halter to strikeout swinging for the final out of the game as LSU win’s their seventh title in the program history.
Florida second baseman Cade Kurkland ripped a single to left center field to start the Gators offense in the top of the first. The next batter, Wyatt Langford, launched a two-run home run down the left field line for his 21st homer of the season to put Florida up 2-0.
But then LSU put six runs on the scoreboard in the top of the second, starting when second baseman Gavin Dugas was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning. A few batters later, junior shortstop Jordan Thompson ripped an RBI single to left field, scoring Dugas to make it 2-1.
Cade Beloso was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to send Brayden Jobert home to tie the game at two. The next batter, 2023 Golden Spikes Award Winner Dylan Crews, walked with the bases loaded to push Josh Pearson across and give the Tigers a 3-2 lead.
Then LSU third baseman Tommy White ripped a single through the left side of the infield, scoring catcher Alex Milazzo as the Bayou Bengals extended their lead. They’d add two more on a sacrifice fly by Tre’ Morgan and an RBI single by Gavin Dugas to end the top of the second, leading 6-2.
Florida starting pitcher Jac Caglianone would be taken out of the game during the top of the second inning as he threw 1.1 innings allowing two hits, six earned runs, walking three batters, and striking out two.
In the top of the fourth inning, the Bayou Bengals extended the lead to seven when left fielder Josh Pearson blasted a two-run home run over the right field wall, his fourth of the season, to make it 9-2.
A few batters later, Beloso’s RBI single to right field sent Milazzo around the infield from first, and as he rounded third base with LSU’s third base coach Josh Jordan waving him in to score. Florida catcher BT Riopelle received the relay throw, and Milazzo leapt over Riopelle’s tag, scoring the 10th run of the game, landing awkwardly on the plate and falling to the ground in pain, putting him out of the game.
In the bottom of the seventh inning, Florida right fielder Ty Evans launched a solo home run over the right field wall for his fifth home run of the College World Series, breaking the College World Series record as the Gators cut the lead to 11-3.
The Tigers offense pounded seven runs during the final two innings of Monday’s national title win as junior right fielder Brayden Jobert launched a two-run home run for his 13th of the season for the final 18th run of the game for LSU.
“I think everyone’s going to probably remember us because of this national championship. And I think for me, the greatest honor I’ve had being at LSU and playing shortstop for three years is to be able to go to battle with these guys every single day — practice, workouts, early mornings, days where you’re tired but nobody cares. And those are things that you can’t trade for the world,” said LSU shortstop Jordan Thompson, who went 2-for-6 with three RBI.
With the win, LSU center fielder Dylan Crews became the fourth player in NCAA Division I Baseball history to win a national title and the Golden Spikes Award in the same year.
“Man, it’s such a great feeling. I feel like almost every box was checked off except that national championship box,” said Crews. “And we all knew this was going to be our last game here. And to finally say that I’m a national champion, it’s the greatest feeling in the world. And I feel all the boxes are checked off now.”
The other three players to win the College World Series and the Golden Spikes Award in the same season are Mark Kotsay in 1995 with Cal-State Fullerton University, Terry Francona in 1980 with Arizona, and 1979 Tim Wallach with Cal-State Fullerton University.
LSU junior starting pitcher and the No. 2 draft prospect from MLB Pipeline, Paul Skenes, won the Most Outstanding Player Award during the 2023 NCAA Division I College World Series. Skenes threw 7.2 innings against Tennessee on June 17, allowing two earned runs, five hits, walking one batter, and striking out 12. In his second start of the College World Series against Wake Forest, Skenes threw eight innings allowing two hits, no earned runs, walking one, and striking out nine in what will be remembered as one of the greatest College World Series games ever played.
“I think it’s coaching. And I think looking at the past few College World Series champions, and just looking at this tournament, there’s two things — I said this the other day — you can’t be here anymore without future Major League players on your roster,” said LSU head coach Jay Johnson.
2023 NCAA Division I College World Series All-Tournament Team
Catcher – BT Riopelle (Florida)
First Baseman – Tre’ Morgan (LSU)
Second Baseman – Gavin Dugas (LSU)
Shortstop – Josh Rivera (Florida)
Third Baseman – Tommy White (LSU)
Outfielder – Dylan Crews (LSU)
Outfielder – Ty Evans (Florida)
Outfielder – Wyatt Langford (Florida)
Designated Hitter – Cade Beloso (LSU)
Starting Pitcher – Ty Floyd (LSU)