A pair of college baseball’s elite programs, the Gators and Tigers are certainly not unfamiliar to this stage either, as both have played, and won, national titles before in Omaha, as well as having even met head-to-head in the championship series back in 2017.
So, ahead of this weekend’s action, let’s take a look back to revisit that 2017 championship series between Florida and LSU, one in which the Gators won the program’s first national title.
Florida vs. LSU: Revisiting the 2017 College World Series Finals
The 2017 College World Series Finals featured a pair of 50-win teams in Florida and LSU, with the series ultimately lasting only two games, both of which the Gators would win. Of the two games, Game 1 of the series was arguably the best, as Florida would win by a final score of 4-3.
A game that was scoreless across the first three frames, Florida would strike for three runs in the top of the fourth as a result of an RBI sac-fly from Austin Langworthy, as well as a two-RBI double from Jonathan India. LSU would however find the scoreboard in the bottom of the sixth with a solo HR from Antoine Duplantis, along with an RBI single from Beau Jordan to make it 3-2.
Both teams would also go on to score on RBI singles in the seventh and eighth innings from both Mike Rivera and Josh Smith, respectively, with Florida going on to win by the final score of 4-3. A big reason as to why the Gators won was their pitching, as Florida received a strong start from Brady Singer going seven innings with three earned runs, 12 strikeouts, eight hits, and two walks, while Michael Byrne would close the door with two innings to earn the save.
Now one win away from the program’s first national championship, Florida’s pitching would go on to shine in Game 2 also, as the Gators won by a final score of 6-1. With the Tigers lone run coming via a seventh inning Smith RBI double, Florida would receive nine strong innings from the trio of Tyler Dyson, Byrne, and Jackson Kowar to close it out.
Offensively, Florida would strike early with RBI singles from JJ Schwarz and Deacon Liput in the first and second innings, and would go on to carry a 2-1 lead into what would be a big eighth inning for the Gators. Included in that inning would be an RBI hit-by-pitch from Ethan Horvath, an RBI single from Liput, and an RBI sac-fly from Schwarz to build the lead to 6-1 going into the ninth, where the Gators would then get three outs to win it all.
With these two teams set to meet on college baseball’s biggest stage once again this weekend, will 2023 play out in a similar way to 2017, or will the Tigers claim their first national title since 2009?