OMAHA (Seminoles.com) – A pair of unearned runs in the eighth inning led LSU (49-17) over Florida State (45-22) in Saturday’s College World Series at TD Ameritrade Park in front of 25,305 fans. Each of FSU’s top seven hitters had at least one hit, led by Dylan Busby’s two hits and Taylor Walls’ three runs scored.
Tyler Holton (10-3) was the hard-luck loser for the Seminoles, allowing five runs (three earned) and striking out five in 7.1 innings pitched.
Jared Poche’ (11-3) earned the win in his first relief appearance of the season, allowing just two hits in 2.2 innings in relief of starter Alex Lange. Lange, a first round selection in the MLB Draft earlier this week, allowed four runs on seven hits in six innings, striking out eight and walking four.
Florida State struck first, scoring two in the top of the first inning on Busby’s 15th home run of the season. Busby’s home run was one of the longest in TD Ameritrade Park history, clearing the ‘408’ sign at the top of the centerfield wall. Busby’s 15 home runs are the most of his career, while his 38 career home runs are the most among active players in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
LSU cut the deficit in half in the bottom of the inning. After getting Robertson and Cole Freeman out to start the inning, Antoine Duplantis walked and scored from first when Greg Deichmann struck out and reached on a wild pitch. Holton responded by forcing Zach Watson to pop up and end the inning.
In the third, Walls and Busby again combined to extend FSU’s lead. Walls doubled to lead off the inning and Busby’s second hit of the game, an RBI single up the middle, scored Walls and gave FSU a 3-1 lead. Busby stole second and reached third on a wild pitch on Quincy Nieporte’s walk, but both runners were stranded when Cal Raleigh and Drew Mendoza struck out swinging.
LSU again answered in the bottom of the inning on a pair of singles. Beau Jordan singled to right field and was replaced at first base on Freeman’s fielder’s choice groundout. Freeman stole second base and scored on Duplantis’s single to centerfield.
Walls was the catalyst of FSU’s run in the fifth inning as well, reaching on a walk and scoring on Quincy Nieporte’s 79th RBI of the year. Dating back to game one of the Super Regional against Sam Houston State, Walls reached base successfully in 14 consecutive plate appearances, breaking Paul Sorrento’s school-record of 13 from 1985.
Walls also took over the national lead in walks in the game, adding three and pushing his season total to 66. He entered the College World Series trailing Seth Beer of Clemson by one. Walls’ three runs scored in the game give him 81 on the year, second-most in the country and two behind LSU’s Kramer Robertson.
Nieporte’s 79 runs batted in this year are the most for a Seminole since Buster Posey had 93 in 2008.
The Tigers got its run back on the first pitch in the bottom of the inning, when Michael Papierski hit his ninth home run of the season. Holton retired the next six hitters, and worked around a walk and single in the seventh when Jordan grounded into an inning-ending 5-4-3 double play. Both teams combined to hit into five double plays on the evening.
FSU took a 4-3 lead to the eighth inning with Holton back on the mound to start the inning. A one-out single off Holton’s glove from Freeman was followed by a single to right field from Duplantis. Steven Wells had two errors on the play, one by letting the ball roll past him in right field and a second on the throw to the infield that allowed Freeman to score.
Busby picked up the loose ball and threw to get Freeman at the plate, but Raleigh dropped the throw and Duplantis scooted to third base with the score tied 4-4.
After the play, Holton was pulled for Alec Byrd, who allowed a Greg Deichmann single through the right side that gave its first lead of the game at 5-4. Drew Carlton came in and retired both hitters he faced to limit the inning.
In the ninth, Matt Henderson had his second of two hits on the day to lead off the inning, but Nick Derr struck out looking as a pinch hitter for Wells and Kyle Cavanaugh struck out swinging as a pinch hitter for Flowers before Zack Hess entered and earned his second save of the year.
Hess walked Walls to put two runners on base, but Busby struck out looking to end the game.
Florida State will play Cal State Fullerton Monday at 2:00 ET in this season’s first elimination game of the College World Series. The Titans lost in similar fashion earlier Saturday, dropping a 6-5 game to top-seed Oregon State after leading 5-1 through five innings.