Brady Singer struck out a career-high 12 in seven innings, Jonathan India doubled in two runs, and Florida beat LSU 4-3 in Game 1 of the College World Series finals Monday night.
The Gators (51-19) need a win Tuesday or Wednesday to earn their first national championship in baseball.
Singer’s strikeout total was highest by a single pitcher in a CWS finals game. Singer (9-5) limited LSU (52-19) to three singles before Antoine Duplantis homered in the sixth. He left after Greg Deichmann doubled leading off the eighth.
Florida led 3-0 after LSU starter Russell Reynolds (1-2) issued three straight walks in the fourth, with India driving in two runs on a ground-rule double.
Down 4-2 and with fans clad in purple and gold chanting “L-S-U, L-S-U,” the Tigers threatened in the eighth. Josh Smith sent a ball into the right-center gap to drive in a run.
But he was thrown out trying for second by Nick Horvath, who entered as a pinch runner in the top of the eighth and stayed in the game as the center fielder.
Singer, who pitched a complete game in an 8-1 win over LSU in March, turned in his second strong performance at the CWS. The sophomore struck out nine and allowed one run in seven innings against Louisville last Tuesday. Monday marked the eighth straight game that Florida pitchers struck out 11 or more.
LSU – playing its fourth game in six days and with Eric Walker out with an injury – turned to the seldom-used Reynolds to start. The fifth-year senior, wearing a close-cropped Mohawk under his cap and throwing an 85 mph fastball, gave the Tigers three solid innings in his first start since March 2015.
He got a groundout to start the fourth but then walked three straight. Coach Paul Mainieri called on left-hander Nick Bush, and Reynolds got a nice hand from LSU fans as he went into the dugout.
Florida took a 3-0 lead when Dalton Guthrie tagged up on Austin Langworthy‘s foul out, and two more runs came home when India’s drive to deep center bounced over the fence for a ground-rule double.
The Tigers pulled within a run in the sixth. Duplantis went deep into the right-field bullpen for his second homer of the season, and first since March 18, and Beau Jordan singled in a run to make it 3-2.
SCORING FIRST HELPS
Teams to score first have won 13 straight CWS games. There hasn’t been a lead change since the seventh inning of Game 5. Monday was Game 15.
LSU’s Deichmann lost the grip of his bat when he swung at a pitch in the sixth inning, and it flew all the way to the camera well beyond the first-base dugout. Fortunately, no one was in the flight path.
GIVING UP HIS BODY
Florida shortstop Dalton Guthrie, who had to leave Saturday’s game against TCU with back spasms, made one of the great defensive plays of the CWS when he sprinted and dived to catch Kramer Robertson‘s foul ball in the third inning. Guthrie landed on his chest and nearly did a face plant in the dirt, but held onto the ball.
Republished with permission from the Associated Press.