Florida clobbers LSU with record-breaking performance in Game 2 of CWS finals

Published 7:23 pm Sunday, June 25, 2023

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Florida had been involved in more close games than any other team at the College World Series this year.

That changed in a big way Sunday, when the Gators unleashed an offensive barrage of historic proportions.

Florida scored the most runs ever in a CWS game and came up one short of the record for largest margin of victory in a 24-4 rout of LSU that forced a deciding Game 3 of the finals.

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The Gators (54-16) hit six home runs on a windy day at Charles Schwab Field and pounded LSU (53-17) pitching for a CWS record-tying 23 hits a day after Ty Floyd struck out 17 in the Tigers’ 4-3, 11-inning win in Game 1.

“We did exactly what we said we were going to do — flush last night and come in today ready to play,” outfielder Wyatt Langford said. “The balls were falling for us today. And that’s just kind of how it went.”

The teams play the final game of the College World Series on Monday night at 6, with the winner earning the national championship. LSU is trying for its first national title since 2009, and Florida since 2017.

“Obviously we can’t take any of these runs into tomorrow,” Gators coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “We’ll have to reset, reboot. But awfully proud of the way they responded from last night’s tough loss.”

LSU coach Jay Johnson said he and his players must quickly forget what happened Sunday.

“So we’re going to stick to how we prepare and roll it out tomorrow and give it everything we have,” Johnson said. “One game for the national championship. I think coach O’Sullivan probably feels great about his team, as he should with the players they have.

“I feel great with my team, with the players we have.”

Two-way star Jac Caglianone will pitch for the Gators. Johnson didn’t announce a starter or comment on the availability of ace Paul Skenes, who has thrown 15 2/3 innings over two CWS starts and would be coming off three days’ rest if he were to pitch.

Florida came into Sunday having played in four of the CWS record-tying eight one-run games. The Gators had totaled 17 runs in those games before the offense broke loose.

Ty Evans and Jac Caglianone each homered twice, with Evans’ grand slam breaking things open early. Langford and BT Riopelle also went deep.

Florida’s 24 runs broke Notre Dame’s CWS record, set in a 23-2 win over Northern Colorado in 1957. The 20-run win over the Tigers ranks second to that game for largest margin.

The Gators hadn’t scored so many runs since a 28-5 win over Winthrop on March 3, 2019.

LSU hadn’t given up so many in any of its 245 NCAA Tournament games or in any game since a 28-2 loss to Alabama late in the regular season in 1997. Coincidentally, the Tigers beat Alabama a month later two win their fourth national championship.

The Tigers committed a season-high five errors that led to six unearned runs Sunday vs. Florida.

Asked if there was a point he felt the game was slipping away, LSU star Dylan Crews said, “Not really. I guess you could say when it got up to about 20 runs. But we felt like we were in it the whole time, honestly. We made some pretty remarkable comebacks in our career.”

Langford was 5-for-5 with six RBIs, with two doubles and his homer.

Evans’ shot down the left-field line off Nate Ackenhausen (3-1) tied it 1-1 in the second. His grand slam off Gavin Guidry in the third was a high fly that looked to be headed foul, but the 20-mph wind blowing left to right pushed it inside the left-field foul pole.

The Tigers should have been out of the third before Evans came to bat, but shortstop Jordan Thompson’s fielding error cost them a chance at a double play and kept going what became a six-run inning.

Langford connected in the fifth, and Caglianone followed with his nation-leading 32nd and 33rd homers.

Florida starter Hurston Waldrep, a Southern Miss transfer who had allowed two earned runs in 21 innings in the NCAA Tournament, went just 2 1/3. He walked six, hit two batters and allowed four hits in his shortest appearance of the season, not counting a start against Vanderbilt when he didn’t return after one inning because of a rain delay.

LSU did next to nothing against Florida relievers Blake Purnell (2-0) and Nick Ficarrotta. They combined to pitch 6 1/3 innings of three-hit relief.

“They don’t need a rah-rah speech tomorrow,” O’Sullivan said. “We’re playing a very good LSU team and the winner is going to have the opportunity to be national champion. Enjoy it tonight and wake up tomorrow and stay in our routine.”

Championship series
Game 1 – LSU 4, Florida 3, 11 innings
Game 2 – Florida 24, LSU 4
Game 3 – Monday, 6 p.m. (ESPN)