The LSU Tigers clinched the College World Series championship following an 18-4 victory over the Florida Gators in Game 3 of the finals on Monday night, claiming their first national title since 2009.
The victory came after Florida forced a third game with a record 24-4 win in Game 2. LSU allowed the most runs in a College World Series game in the contest.
The Tigers (54-17) rebounded from the lopsided scoreline and avoided elimination three times during the tournament to claim their seventh championship. They have the second most titles behind Southern California’s 12.
LSU fell early in the contest with a 2-0 deficit, but quickly responded with a six-run second inning. The runs kept coming throughout the game, resulting in a 14-run margin, the largest ever in a CWS final.
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Recording the most hits in a CWS game with an impressive 24, the Tigers also collected the most runs in a title game since USC’s 21-14 win over Arizona State in 1998.
LSU’s Thatcher Hurd (8-3) allowed Wyatt Langford’s two-run homer in the first and then kept the Gators off the board, allowing no hits or runs while retiring 18 of the next 21 batters.
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The Tigers’ Riley Cooper took over leading off the seventh inning and gave up the CWS record fifth home run to the Gators’ Ty Evans. Gavin Guidry finished the five-hit combination.
The Tigers notably sat out ace Paul Skenes in Omaha. He threw a combined 243 pitches in 15 2/3 innings in two spectacular appearances in previous contests. He would have been working on three days off.
His LSU teammates didn’t need his defense though, as they pitched runs and Hatcher kept grappling. Skenes headed to the bullpen for some stretching in the seventh inning, but eventually made his way to the dugout and stayed there until he and his teammates ran to the mound to celebrate their victory after Guidry struck out late in the game.
Skenes was named the CWS’s Most Outstanding Player.
Three key offseason transfers to LSU built the CWS’s winning roster, including Skenes, who became the first college pitcher in 12 years with 200 strikeouts. He could be the No. 1 pick in the amateur draft.
Tommy White hit 24 home runs and drove in a national-leading 105 runs. Hurd was also solid as a starter and reliever, matching his longest outing of the year in the title game.
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The Tigers were the consensus No. 1 team in the polls from preseason until the first week of May when Wake Forest surpassed them. LSU finished the season well enough to be the national No. 5 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
The Tigers swept the regionals and super regionals in Baton Rouge, earning their berth to Omaha for the first time since they were national runner-up six years ago.
The SEC has now won four straight national championships with LSU joining Mississippi, Mississippi State and Vanderbilt.
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Florida (also 54-17) won the SEC regular-season title, was the national No. 2 seed and set school records for wins and home runs, but the Gators couldn’t translate the momentum of their record production Sunday to El Monday night duel.
Associated Press contributed to this report.