The Florida baseball team is now just one win away.
One win from its first national championship. One win from history and the postseason breakthrough that has long eluded the perennially successful program.
The Gators opened the College World Series finals with a 4-3 win over LSU on Monday night at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Neb.
The teams continue their best-of-three series Tuesday night at 8 p.m. ET, and if Florida (51-19) can find a way to win just once more this team will stake its claim as the best in the country and the best in program history.
“Once again, we do just enough to stay ahead. I think that’s maybe our 20th one-run (win) of the year. I don’t know how many, but there’s been quite a few,” Gators coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “And it’s been a long time since we played LSU. And it’s a really good lineup, a really good lineup. I forgot how good it was.”
With neither of its aces available in Game 2 — Brady Singer came up big against Monday night and Alex Faedo pitched on Saturday — the Gators turn to freshman right-hander Tyler Dyson (3-0, 3.55 ERA), who has emerged this postseason while allowing only 2 hits in 8 1/3 scoreless innings.
LSU (52-19), meanwhile, will have veteran righty Jared Poche’ (12-3, 3.33 ERA) on the mound, looking to force this series to a decisive third game.
While the pitching matchup favored Florida on Monday, that advantage flips to the Tigers in this one as Poche’ prepares for his 70th career outing while Dyson makes just his second career start after spending most of the season in the bullpen. And yet, this Gators team just keeps finding ways to win.
Now they just need one more.
“Obviously there’s a long way to go in this thing. We’re facing the winningest pitcher in LSU’s history, which is saying a lot because there’s been so many good pitchers that have come through that program,” O’Sullivan said. “So our players will be prepared to know that this is a long way from being over. And we’re going to have to play better tomorrow. We were fortunate enough tonight to win a one-run game, but we’ve got to play better (Tuesday), that’s for sure.”
Game 1: Florida 4, LSU 3
Game 2: Tuesday, 8 p.m., on ESPN
Game 3 (if necessary): Wednesday, 8 p.m., on ESPN
*All games can be streamed online via WatchESPN.