OMAHA, Nebraska — A celebratory mood, one with a dash of Louisiana flavor, wafted through the air outside Charles Schwab Field on Sunday afternoon.
In the hours leading up to first pitch of Game 2 of the College World Series championship series, LSU’s slightly – let’s face it, probably more than slightly — inebriated army of purple and gold fans felt immensely confident that their beloved Tigers would be victorious. Heck, Cade Beloso’s proud papa Rodney even had spent more than half the day grilling up a 25-pound alligator to devour.
Who could have blamed them?
LSU had the one-game advantage after a dramatic 11th inning win on Saturday night, Dylan Crews was awarded the 2023 Golden Spikes Awards prior to the game, and with 30-mile per hour winds gusting out of the park, Tiger fans gleefully imagined how LSU’s vaunted lineup would slug Florida into submission.
The Tigers ended up being the ones tapping out.
Whether it was the wind gusts, or the baseball gods or some angry alligator deity furious at Beloso’s daddy for grilling up a family member, the Tigers would not celebrate a title on Sunday.
In fact, LSU would suffer one of the most humiliating losses in program history as Florida whipped the Tigers by blasting six home runs in a 24-4 beatdown to force a winner-take-all game this evening at 6.
Yes, these Tigers lost a baseball contest by a football margin. Wonder if Beloso had any leftover gator to sample or did he throw it away in disgust?
I have never had grilled gator but I have had fried gator a time or two, and it’s pretty tasty. Especially with a good remoulade sauce.
My apologies, the mind tends to wander when discussing a 24-4 baseball game.
The Gators — the baseball team and not the Beloso grilled snack — set multiple records including most runs in any CWS game which broke the previous record held by Notre Dame in 1957 and Arizona State in 1984.
Florida additionally set records for most home runs in a CWS Finals game, largest win margin in a CWS Finals game and tied the record for most hits in any CWS game.
The home runs never seemed to stop falling from the sky.
It must be like how the fine folks of Cincinnati felt after Arthur Carlson decided to drop them live turkeys from a helicopter. The horror of it all.
It became pretty apparent that LSU skipper Jay Johnson realized that it wasn’t going to be his team’s day and started going through bullpen arms (Bryce Collins, Blake Money and Christian Little to name a few) that hadn’t pitched barely at all since May.
They all got promptly tattooed by the Gator lineup as well.
Not apparent after the game is if Johnson loves Dr. Johnny Fever and Les Nessman as much as I do. It didn’t seem the right time to ask after Sunday’s loss. I do wonder where I can stream WKRP. Hulu? Netflix? YouTube TV? Man, I used to love that show.
My apologies, I wandered again didn’t I?
Anyway, Johnson’s approach midway through Sunday’s stunner will allow LSU to throw Thatcher Hurd, Riley Cooper, Griffin Herring and maybe even ace Paul Skenes in this evening’s decisive contest.
That could be a huge advantage for the Tigers but the team will also need to clean up other areas. LSU committed a season-high five errors in the loss, and left 17 runners stranded on the base paths, including leaving the bases loaded in the first three innings. That’s not winning baseball but Tiger fans can also look at history for reaffirmation.
Late in the 1997 regular season, Skip Bertman’s boys got embarrassed 28-2 at Alabama (coached by Bossier City native and former Loyola and NSU head man Jim Wells). But the sun came up the next day, and LSU bounced back to win 6-4 and claim the SEC regular season title. The two teams would go on to meet in the first All-SEC national title game, a contest the Tigers took 13-6.
Plus, the previous record for most home runs by a team in a single game was set by Texas in 2009 against … LSU. That Tiger team bounced back to win the title at Omaha’s old Rosenblatt Stadium.
Unfortunately, there is another side of history to discuss.
There have been a total of 10 CWS championship series that have gone to a winner-take-all third game. The squad that has won the second game has gone on to win the title seven times, including the last five.
No matter how lopsided Sunday’s defeat was, LSU still has an amazing chance to win a national title. You can bet that Johnson’s group will be focused and ready to go out there and play their tails off.
For good measure, maybe someone should make sure that Papa Beloso backs off on grilling any more gators until after the game. Maybe go with a turkey instead. Better yet, Omaha Steaks.
Contact Raymond at email@example.com or on Twitter @RPIII_Sports