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Florida Gators infielder Christian Hicks singles in a run in the fourth inning against the TCU Horned Frogs at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha. Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sport

College World Series: Gator Baseball Takes on LSU in All-SEC National Title Game

OMAHA, Neb.– It was only right that these two teams meet at this point.

Two perennial contenders and two SEC rivals. Florida and LSU advanced to Monday night after going to a Game 2 of their College World Series semifinals.

And that’s not mention both teams are the SEC regular season co-champions. So what better place to settle that than the finals of the College World Series? They’ll battle it out at TD Ameritrade Park in an affair with the highest of stakes, with SEC bragging rights and a national championship on the line.

Florida

How They Got Here
  • W, 3-0 over TCU
  • W, 5-1 over Louisville
  • L, 9-2 to TCU
  • W, 3-0 over TCU
What to Know

Florida has depended on their pitching all season; they rode their staff to the finals and they will look to ride it to its first national title in school history.

Much has been made about the performances from Alex Faedo in Omaha, and for good reason. The recent Detroit Tigers draft pick is making a case for CWS Most Outstanding Player. He’s pitched 14.1 scoreless innings with 22 strikeouts. After pitching on Saturday, we’ve likely seen the last of Faedo in a Gator jersey, although Kevin O’Sullivan hasn’t ruled him out yet in possible reliever role, which would probably only come in a Game 3 if the series gets there.

Sophomore righty Brady Singer gets the nod for Game 1 on Monday night. In Singer’s only outing in Omaha, he was dominant against Louisville, giving up just one run and striking out nine in 7 innings. His performance earlier in the season in Gainesville against LSU may have been even more impressive, as he tossed a complete game and gave up just one run in a 8-1 victory.

Florida’s in good shape when it comes to Monday night, but after that things may get dicey. Jackson Kowar will probably be saved for a possible Game 3 so he gets a full four days of rest.

That means there’s a real decision to make for Kevin O’Sullivan when it comes to Game 2. Tyler Dyson, the hard-throwing freshman, has emerged as a dependable guy in the bullpen, in addition to All-American Michael Byrne. One of those two could possibly start Tuesday night, with the other available in relief.

Spark In The Bats?

No matter who is on the mound for the Gators, they’ll have to hope the lineup continues to provide timely runs. The bats haven’t exploded in any game in Omaha, but they haven’t needed to, as the combination of an occasional home run and effective small ball has led to success.

Deacon Liput and Mike Rivera have shouldered a lot of the load in the CWS. The team as a whole is batting just .203 in Omaha, but Liput and Rivera have combined for seven RBIs and five runs, with Liput really emerging by going 4-for-15 so far in the CWS.

If they can keep it going, it’ll go a long way towards Florida trying to win their first championship in their third trip to the finals.

LSU

How They Got Here
  • W, 5-4 over Florida State
  • L, 13-1 to Oregon State
  • W, 7-4 over Florida State
  • W, 3-1 over Oregon State, then 6-1 over Oregon State
What to Know

The Tigers come in with all the momentum in the world, having knocked off the undisputed favorites in Oregon State. The Beavers came in with an outrageous 54-4 record, and hadn’t lost two games in a row all season.

Tons of LSU fans have made the trip up from Baton Rouge and get to see senior Russell Reynolds start Game 1 for their Tigers.

The Tigers haven’t used the right-hander much this season. He enters with an 8.59 ERA and has given up 14 earned runs in just 14.2 innings, all in relief, throughout the season. Meanwhile, Jared Poche and Alex Lange, the two LSU aces, figure to be available for Game 2 and the possible Game 3.

At the plate, junior catcher Michael Papierski has really stepped up for the Tigers. He leads the team with three homers and five RBIs in Omaha, and has proved a spark in the lineup for LSU.

On the season, the main guys have been junior right-fielder Greg Deichmann and sophomore left-fielder Antoine Duplantis, as Deichmann leads the team with 19 homers and 73 RBIs, while Duplantis has a team-high 88 hits.

Series History

Florida won this season’s series two games to one in Gainesville. LSU has had the success against Florida in Omaha though, going 4-0 against the Gators and winning titles in both years they played Florida (1991 and 1996)

Finals Series Info (all times Eastern, all games on ESPN)

Game 1: Monday at 7 p.m. ET

Game 2: Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET

(If necessary) Game 3: Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET

 

About Jonathan Acosta

Native New Englander. Follow me on Twitter: @jonacosta_10

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