The Florida Gators defeated the LSU Tigers, 4-3, in game-1 of the College World Series finals, June 26, 2017, at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Nebraska.
This was a meeting between familiar foes, as the teams play in the South East Conference. In fact, they were the regular season co-champions in 2017. Florida won two out of three from LSU during the regular season. The starting pitcher was Brady Singer, and LSU featured pitcher Russell Reynolds, who had not started a game since March 2015.
The first inning was scoreless, even though both teams managed to get one man on base. Gators shortstop Dalton Guthrie singled but was thrown out stealing second to end the top of the first inning. The Tigers Cole Freeman walked and was stranded on first.
The second inning was scoreless as well. It was a pitcher’s showcase as both starters did not allow a base runner. The game remained scoreless through the third inning.
Florida broke through in the top of the fourth inning. After three straight walks from LSU pitcher Reynolds, he was taken out of the game for reliever Nick Bush. Florida outfielder Austin Langworthy hit a fly ball into foul territory that was caught, but Guthrie scored from third. Jonathan India smashed a double to the wall and two Gators scored. Florida took a 3-0 lead going into the bottom of the fourth. Two hitters for the Tigers made base hits in the bottom of the inning, however, Singer settled down and struck out the next three batters keeping LSU scoreless.
LSU got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the sixth inning. Antoine Duplantis slammed a home run to right field, making the score 3-1 in favor of Florida. The Tigers Zach Watson was hit by a pitch and Josh Smith walked to put men on first and second with two outs. Beau Jordan lined a single to left field and Watson scored. LSU went into the the seventh inning trailing by one run, 3-2.
Florida struck again in the top of the seventh inning. Langworthy led off with a double to center field. India then bunted to move Langworthy to third. Catcher Mike Rivera drilled a single up the middle and Langworthy scored. LSU pulled Hicks for reliever Hunter Newman, who walked Ryan Larson and struck out Deacon Liput to end the top half of the seventh. LSU was again held scoreless in the bottom of the inning and the score was 4-2 in favor of the Gators.
The Tigers began the bottom of the eighth with a double by Greg Deichmann. Florida starter Singer was taken out and closer Michael Byrne came in to pitch. Josh Smith drove in Deichmann with a one-out single but was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double. Jordan grounded out to end the eighth with Florida leading by one run. Neither team would score the rest of the day.
Florida now holds a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three series. The Gators are one win away from the title. In the past, the team that won the first game has gone on to win the series, 71 percent of the time. The two finalists will play again on Tuesday, June 27, in Omaha.
Written By D.T. Osborn
Edited by Jeanette Smith
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Featured and Top Images Courtesy of D.T. Osborn