LSU fans took their shots, but Tigers didn’t capitalize on theirs

OMAHA, Nebraska — The victory celebration poured out onto the steamy streets Monday afternoon outside of Charles Schwab Field.

The purple and gold army of boisterous LSU fans proudly yelled “Geaux Tigers” while holding plastic shot glasses and giving each other high fives and of course, intoxicated bro hugs.

LSU had won… at breaking the Jello-Shot Challenge at popular local watering hole Rocco’s, with a big assist from Raising Cane’s founder Todd Graves who purchased 6,000 shots.

I mean Jello does go with anything — so why not chicken fingers?

With Graves’ bold play, Tiger fans smashed the record of most shots (21,435) consumed during the College World Series — a hallmark of achievement previously held by the fans of last year’s national champions, Ole Miss.

To make things even more impressive was the fact that LSU needed only four days to eclipse the record. That could end up being a good thing, because the Tigers’ stay in Omaha may not last until the weekend.

After defeating fellow SEC power Tennessee 6-3 on Saturday night, LSU took on top seed Wake Forest on Monday night.

Despite facing the country’s most vaunted lineup and the single-most feared hitter in All-American Dylan Crews, Wake Forest held LSU mainly in check, limiting the Tigers to two runs and a mere five hits.

Whether it was the wind blowing in, or a strike zone that struggled to stay in the same place throughout the middle innings, the Tigers saw a 2-0 lead mutate into a 3-2 defeat.

Jay Johnson’s team now finds itself in the dreaded loser’s bracket — needing to win three games in three days to advance to the championship round this weekend.

It was all going smoothly until the sixth inning.

Ty Floyd — the Tigers’ undefeated but overshadowed starting pitcher — had been dealing as he had given up only two hits while striking out a career-high 10 in five scoreless innings.    

Floyd loaded the bases in the sixth as he walked the first three batters. Johnson then went to the bullpen and brought in Thatcher Hurd.

Wake Forest’s Brock Wilken took the second pitch he saw from Hurd and drove it up the middle for an RBI single. Hurd did manage to get the next Demon Deacon to ground out to a double play but that still allowed the game to be tied.

LSU would have a chance to go ahead in the eighth but it was not to be.

Despite getting a leadoff double by Tre’ Morgan and Hayden Travinski then reaching on a fielding error, the Tigers failed to cross home plate.

Cade Beloso hit the ball to the right side and Wake Forest’s third baseman Brock Wilken threw out Morgan at home — a ruling which was upheld despite a challenge from Johnson.

The threat ended with Gavin Dugas grounding out to double play.

Later in the frame, Wake Forest seized the opportunity as Danny Corona hit a one-out double and then scored moments later as Bennett Lee lifted a single off of Hurd into left field.

LSU’s last chance rested on the shoulders of the team’s 7-8-9 hitters, who on Saturday night recorded five of the team’s 10 hits.

In the ninth, they struck out twice and grounded out to end the game.

LSU will now turn around and have to take on Tennessee — who rallied to eliminate Stanford earlier on Monday — in an elimination game this evening at 6.

Can the Tigers — who will be taking the Johnny Wholestaff approach — find a way to beat the Volunteers for a second time in three days and fourth time out of five times this season? Absolutely. But they could also fall short and be sent home packing before the middle of the week. If that happens, then there won’t be enough Jello shots to comfort the sorrows of Tiger fans.

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