Florida Gators baseball falls to LSU in extra innings, must dig out of hole in College World Series

By OnlyGators.com Staff
June 24, 2023
Florida Gators baseball falls to LSU in extra innings, must dig out of hole in College World Series

Image Credit: UAA

If the No. 2 Florida Gators are going to win the 2023 College World Series, it will take a Herculean effort. Despite battling back from an early deficit, Florida gave away a late lead and ultimately fell 4-3 to the No. 5 LSU Tigers in 11 innings on Saturday, dropping the first game in the best-of-three season-ending series to determine this year’s national champion.

Game 1 winners have emerged victorious across 63.2% of CWS Championship Series (12 of 19) with nine two-game sweeps.

The Gators struck out 20 times Saturday with Tigers starting pitcher Ty Floyd (8.0 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, BB, 17 K) putting forth a historic performance. He tied the record for most strikeouts in a CWS appearance of nine innings or less.

A solo home run by LSU designated hitter Cade Beloso broke open the extra-inning tie. It came just one frame after Florida junior outfielder Wyatt Langford appeared to hit a game-winning liner to left only for it to be gobbled up arguably the play of the game.

Beloso plated the first run of the game with UF falling behind 2-0 after giving up its first of three homers in the top of the third. This as junior right-handed pitcher Brandon Sproat (4.0 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 5 BB, 7 K) struggled massively in his starting appearance.

A minor rally in the bottom of the third ended with an RBI for sophomore first baseman Jac Caglianone (1/5, RBI, 2 K) off a fielder’s choice; Caglianone left two on base seeing his struggles otherwise continue in Omaha, Nebraska, though he did match the program record with 85 RBI this season.

Gators senior catcher BT Riopelle broke the 2-2 tie with a massive homer in the sixth, but Tigers third baseman Tommy White hit similar no-doubter in the top of the eighth to erase the advantage.

Though the game did ultimately slip through Florida’s fingers, LSU was clearly the more dominant and consistent team Saturday. Beyond Floyd’s performance, the Tigers nearly doubled the Gators’ hits (11-6) and left an astonishing 17 men on base through the contest.

Florida will likely throw junior RHP Hurston Waldrep in Game 2 on Sunday at 3 p.m. ET as it looks to overcome its first loss in three weeks. Waldrep has been the Gators’ best performer since the beginning of the 2023 NCAA Tournament. In 21 innings across three starts, he has allowed just two earned runs with seven walks and 37 strikeouts.

Beyond pitching, though, Florida needs its bats to wake up. Caglianone, the Division I home-run king and UF single-season record holder, is 4 for 29 in the NCAA Tournament; more recently, he is 2 for 17 with one RBI, one walk and five strikeouts in the CWS. Similarly struggling is freshman second baseman Cade Kurland, who is just 3 of 19 in the leadoff spot for the Gators in the CWS (though he does have three RBI, including one Saturday).

Florida is seeking to win the national championship for just the second time in program history. Its first national title came in 2017 when it defeated TCU in the semifinal round and swept LSU in the Championship Series. While the Gators similarly beat the Horned Frogs in this year’s semifinal, their will face a much tougher road as they seek to topple their SEC rival and claim the national crown.

Join The

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

WordPress Appliance - Powered by TurnKey Linux