Far too often in the social media era we hand out the phrase “the best ever” when something very cool in sports happens.
An incredible play will happen, or a great game will be played and it will be the center of attention on all our timelines. The game or play in question will achieve the ever important “TRENDING” status on Twitter and for about 12 hours or so it will be all anyone can talk about....that is until the next very cool thing happens and we all move on.
But every now and then, you’ll have the rare game that has something just a little different. Something that makes you think “I’m lucky to be witnessing this.” This past FIFA World Cup Final between France and Argentina had that—in fact that game might have been the greatest game I’ve seen across any sport—and honestly? Last night had it too.
LSU-Wake Forest is the greatest college baseball game I’ve ever seen. In fact it might be the greatest game of baseball I’ve ever seen at any level.
As LSU advanced its way out of the losers bracket, we’ve rightfully sung the praises of guys like Nate Ackenhausen, Griffin Herring, Riley Cooper, and Gavin Guidry. Ack’s start against Tennessee, and Herring’s extended relief outing against Wake Forest will rightfully live on in LSU lore forever. Years from now when you say “the Nate Ackenhausen Game” or “the Griffin Herring Game” every LSU baseball fan will know exactly what you’re talking about.
Unexpected heroes are great! It’s what makes postseason baseball so wonderful. But what does a great game need to achieve that unassailable level of special? They need stars. More than that, they need stars delivering in the biggest stage.
Go back to the France-Argentina example I used: Lionel Messi, the greatest soccer player to ever live, scored two goals for Argentina. Kylian Mbappé, the best player for the reigning world champions, had a hat trick for the French.
Messi, going for the World Cup title that eluded him for so long, got Argentina on the board first. Mbappé, trailing 2-0 in the 80th minute, scored two goals in about two minutes of real time.
In extra time, Messi scored his second goal to put Argentina ahead 3-2, only for Mbappé to answer again to send the game to PKs. Both scored their penalty kicks too by the way so technically you could say Messi scored three times, while Mbappé scored four. Oh and those two were teammates for PSG if that all drama wasn’t enough.
Comparing a game consisting of professionals competing in the finals of the biggest tournament in the world against college kids in a semifinal round might seem crazy. But I’m confident saying the level of skill on we saw last night in Omaha was comparable to that day in Qatar.
Paul Skenes and Rhett Lowder had a pitchers’ duel for the ages. In a game where one run could be the difference, neither team’s ace—on short rest mind you—blinked. Lowder threw seven shutout innings, Skenes matched with eight. Both Skenes and Lowder are going to be top-10 picks in next month’s MLB draft.
Tre Morgan, the best first baseman in the country as far as I’m concerned, did his best “Derek Jeter flip against the A’s” impression in a spot where if Wake Forest goes up 1-0, that game’s over.
Even when the starters were pulled the bullpens delivered. The Deacs’ bullpen is just as lethal as its starting rotation and, but for one pitch, had LSU flummoxed. On the other hand, Thatcher Hurd made sure Paul Skenes’ night wouldn’t be for naught and threw up zeros. I’ve been critical of this LSU bullpen, but this group couldn’t have picked a better time than now to do their best Mariano Rivera impression.
The LSU pitching staff has pitched 46 innings in Omaha. They have not allowed runs in 43 of them.— Evan Saacks (@evansaacks) June 23, 2023
Stars take games from great to legendary and LSU had theirs coming up 1-2-3 in the bottom of that memorable 11th inning: Crews-White-Morgan. If LSU was gonna win this, it had to be with those three. Crews, now two wins away from cementing himself as LSU’s best player ever, got the leadoff single to chase Michael Massey, and you know what happened next: Tommy White just moved into Warren Morris and Brad Cresse’s neighborhood.
The last sign that a game is worthy of that “best ever” status? Hoping that neither team loses. Wake Forest is a damn good baseball team. They were more than worthy of that No. 1 ranking and beating them once was no easy task, let alone twice. As Jay Johnson said in his presser last night “we slayed a giant.”
LSU vs. Wake Forest, June 22, 2023, is the greatest college baseball game I’ve ever seen. It would have achieved that status regardless of the outcome.
I’m just glad that LSU’s on the right side of it.