OMAHA, Neb. (LSU) - Florida won its first College World Series title Tuesday night with a 6-1 victory over LSU at TD Ameritrade Park.
In 2017, LSU (52-20) was co-champion of the Southeastern Conference with the Gators, won NCAA Regional and Super Regional Titles and won three elimination games in the CWS prior to the final series.
Florida finished the season 52-19.
Freshman right-hander Tyler Dyson (4-0) earned the win for the Gators in his second career start. Dyson limited LSU to one run on three hits in six innings with two walks and two strikeouts.
LSU starter Jared Poche’, the winningest pitcher in school history with a 39-13 career mark, was charged with the loss to finish with a 12-4 mark in 2017. Poche’ worked 5.2 innings and was charged with two runs – none earned – on seven hits with one walk and three strikeouts.
Florida took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning with a fielding error and two singles off Poche' to start the game. Deacon Liput hit a sharp ground ball that LSU first baseman Nick Coomes couldn't corral in time to get the Gators leadoff hitter. Dalton Guthrie followed with a single to left that put runners on first and third, and JJ Schwarz also singled through the left side to drive in Liput.
With runners on first and second with one out, Poche' retired the next three Gators to limit the damage.
An error led to another Florida run in the second inning. With two outs, Florida's Nick Horvath singled through the left side. Horvath looked to be caught stealing on Poche's pickoff, however, Coomes dropped the ball on his throw and the error put a runner in scoring position. An RBI single by Liput gave Florida a 2-0 lead, both runs unearned.
Poche' ran into trouble again in the third, as Nelson Maldonado and Jonathan India each singled to start the frame. After a groundout, Mike Rivera was intentionally walked to load the bases. Poche' earned a three-pitch strikeout of Ryan Larson before getting Horvath to pop-out on the infield.
LSU put runners on base in 3-of-4 innings against Tyler Dyson with two hits and a walk, but the Tigers couldn't put together a rally to shake the freshman righthander who was making his second career start.
After Poche' retired the Gators in order in the bottom of the fourth, LSU put pressure on Dyson when Jake Slaughter drew a nine-pitch leadoff walk. However, three ground-ball outs ended the brief rally with Slaughter on third base.
With two outs and a runner on second in the bottom of the sixth, Poche' left the game after 5 2/3 innings. Reliever Zack Hess earned a strikeout of Liput to end the sixth.
LSU got on the scoreboard in the top of the seventh, as Zach Watson singled to start the inning. Two pitches later, Florida went to its closer, Michael Byrne.
After Watson stole second, Smith doubled to right-center field to drive in Watson and narrow the deficit to 2-1. With no outs and Smith on second, Slaughter singled through the left side, but Smith had to hold up and was forced to stay at third base.
The Tigers looked to have tied the game on a ground-ball double play by Michael Papierski, however, Slaughter was called for interference sliding into second base and Smith was put back onto third base. Byrne got out of the jam when Beau Jordan lined out to center field.
LSU had another opportunity to score runs in the eighth inning, as Kramer Robertson battled for a leadoff single to right field, moved to second on a wild pitch and then third when Cole Freeman legged out a bunt single.
However, after Byrne struck out Antoine Duplantis, Florida went made another pitching change. Making his first appearance out of the bullpen in 2017, Jackson Kowar got Greg Deichmann to ground to first, where Schwarz threw a strike to home plate and Rivera applied the tag on Robertson for the second out. Watson lined out to center field, and the Tigers’ threat was thwarted.
Florida delivered the final blow in the bottom of the eighth by putting up four runs against Hess.
Kowar was credited with his first save of the season for the Gators.