LSU designated hitter Cade Beloso launched a go-ahead solo shot in the top of the 11th inning Saturday night to lift the Tigers to a 4-3 victory over Florida in Game 1 of the College World Series Championship Series at Charles Schwab Field.
LSU starter Ty Floyd tossed a gem on the mound, firing 8.0 innings while allowing three runs on five hits with one walk and 17 strikeouts. The 17 strikeouts by Floyd are the most by any LSU pitcher in the CWS, as it broke Brett Laxton’s long-standing record set 30 years ago in the 1993 championship game. Laxton fired 16 strikeouts in an 8-0 win over Wichita State to lead LSU to the ’93 CWS title. Floyd’s 17 strikeouts also tied the CWS record for the most Ks by a pitcher in a game prior to extra innings.
With the win, LSU leads the championship series 1-0 and improved to 53-16 on the season. The Gators dropped to 53-16 with the loss. The Tigers return to action Sunday afternoon for Game 2, with the action being televised on ESPN at 2 PM CT. LSU fans are also encouraged to listen to the game on the LSU Sports Radio Network affiliates. If LSU wins Sunday’s game, the Tigers are the 2023 NCAA Champions. If Florida wins on Sunday, the teams play again at 6 PM CT Monday in a winner-take-all game for the national championship.
“It was a great college baseball game,” Johnson said. “Two of the best teams in the country, a ton of execution by both teams from the mound. Great defensive plays. Really good, quality at-bats.”
LSU opened the scoring in the top of the first inning. The frame began with centerfielder Dylan Crews getting hit-by-pitch, and second baseman Gavin Dugas reached base on a walk. Beloso delivered an RBI single to put the Tigers on top 1-0. Beloso’s RBI allowed Crews to score his 95th run of the season, tying the LSU single-season record.
LSU second baseman Gavin Dugas launched his 14th homer of the season in the top of the third to extend the Tigers’ lead to 2-0. The Gators plated a run in the bottom half of the inning on the strength of a walk, double, and a fielder’s choice grounder by first baseman Jac Caglianone.
Florida knotted the score at 2-2 in the fifth inning, beginning with a double from rightfielder Ty Evans. He advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt and scored on an RBI groundout by second baseman Cade Kurland. Florida catcher BT Riopelle gave his team a lead in the sixth inning with a solo home run to right field, his 18 dinger of the year.
LSU third baseman Tommy White responded in the top of the eighth with his own solo shot to tied the score 3-3. The blast was White’s 24th of the season, as he homered for the second straight game. The game entered extra innings for the second LSU game in a row, and the Tigers struck in the 11th inning again – this time on the strength of Beloso’s one-out blast. Beloso’s homer came against Florida closer Brandon Neely (2-3), who was charged with the loss.
Neely worked 3.2 innings and allowed one run on one hit with three walks and four strikeouts. “You’ve got to give credit to Brandon Neely first,” Beloso said.
“He’s unbelievable. He’s one of the best pitchers in the country. And he has a great fastball. My prior at-bat he struck me out on three straight heaters. I figured he was going to go back to that.
“And then the first pitch blew by me again. So I knew he was coming back with it; they weren’t going to switch anything up. I finally got one that I was supposed to swing at and put a good swing on it.”
LSU head coach Jay Johnson, along with players Cade Beloso, Riley Cooper, and Ty Floyd all spoke about the win after the game. Video is courtesy of the NCAA.