Florida (51-19) has taken game one of the 2017 College World Series Final from LSU (52-19) behind a strong outing from starter Brady Singer.
The Gators got out early and held to the lead to a 4-3 final while Brady Singer handcuffed LSU. The Florida pitcher went seven innings where he allowed three runs on eight spread out hits while walking only two and striking out 12 Tigers.
Russell Reyonlds pitched valiantly for LSU to start the game, but hit a wall in the third inning when he allowed three straight walks with one out. He was pulled in favor of Nick Bush, but a sacrifice fly in foul territory from Austin Langworthy scored Dalton Guthrie for Florida’s first run of the game. Shortstop Kramer Robertson made the play on the ball in foul territory and the throw home was late and off line, allowing Langworthy to advance to second on the throw home. There is some debate as to whether or not Duplantis should have called him off and made the play, but there probably wouldn’t have been too much difference.
Jonathan India would add two more runs when he hit a ground rule double over Zach Watson’s head to score the last two walks Reynolds allowed to make it 3-0 Gators. Reynolds ended the final outing of his baseball career after 3.1 innings where he allowed three runs, all earned on three walks and two hits while striking out two.
LSU had a chance when they followed up the bottom half of the inning with back to back singles from Duplantis and Greg Deichmann. However, Singer would shut down the inning with three straight strikeouts to Watson, Smith, and Jordan to end what looked like LSU’s best chance in the game.
LSU finally got to Singer in the bottom of the sixth inning when Duplantis laced a solo home run to right field, his second of the season to put LSU on the board. Zach Watson was hit by a pitch and Josh Smith drew a two out walk to move Watson into scoring position. Jordan singled in Watson with a laser to left field to pull LSU within a run, down 3-2.
Florida answered with a double from Langworthy to leadoff the top of the seventh. He was bunted over to third and scored easily on Mike Rivera’s single up the middle to put Florida ahead by two and chase Nick Bush with a 4-2 lead.
LSU had a chance in the seventh inning when Robertson hit a one out single, but was hosed on the throwdown to second when he saw a pitch down in the dirt. That loomed large because it not only gave Florida a free out, but Cole Freeman followed it up with a single up the middle that would have moved Robertson to second base anyway and brought up Greg Deichmann with runners in position.
Deichmann lead off the bottom of the eighth inning after that and did so with a double down the right field line. Josh Smith answered him with a one out single to right center to score Deichmann but was out at second when he tried to stretch the single into a double. However, Florida closer Michael Byrne closed the door on the Tigers to clinch game one for the Gators.
LSU will look to even up the series and keep their season alive Tuesday night in game two at 7:00 p.m. on ESPN. LSU career wins leader Jared Poche’ will be starting for LSU in game two. If LSU wins tomorrow night then there will be a decisive game three Wednesday night, also at 7:00 p.m. on ESPN. If LSU loses, then their season is over and Florida wins the national championship.
The Tigers’ backs are against the wall. They’ll have to fight back if they want to leave Omaha with championship number seven.