Gators lose College World Series to LSU Tigers
After a dominant 2023 regular and postseason performance, the Florida Gators baseball team fell short of winning their second national championship in a sudden-death College World Series championship game against the Louisiana State Tigers.
Head coach Kevin O’Sullivan and the Gators came into Omaha, Nebraska, for the Men’s College World Series for the fourth time in program history and as the second-ranked team in the nation. They won every game in the College World Series tournament before losing against LSU 4-3 in the first game of the best-of-three series finale in Charles Schwab Field. They took the next game 24-4, breaking the record for most runs in a Men’s College World Series game. After coming out strong in the first inning, the Gators dropped the winner-take-all game 18-4 Monday night.
“Certainly, right now, it’s very disappointing,” O’Sullivan said, “but it’s certainly not going to take away from the accomplishments [from this season].”
Although falling short of the ultimate prize, the season was filled with many personal and team achievements. Pitcher/first baseman Jac Caglianone led the entire NCAA in home runs with 33, the team had five All-Americans, they broke the team record with 54 wins and they won the regular season SEC title, among other big accolades.
Some Gator star players are poised to be picked high in the upcoming MLB draft. Outfielder Wyatt Langford is expected to be a top-five draft pick, and pitcher Hurston Waldrep is expected to be selected in the first round as well.
But some won’t have the opportunity to play baseball at the next level, like senior catcher BT Riopelle, who graduated from the University of Florida and accepted a job in finance starting this summer. He joined the Gators this season for one last ride and to try to win a national championship.
“It was the easiest decision of my life to come back here last year,” Riopelle said in tears. “[I’m] forever indebted to this program, these coaches, these players. It’s been the best years of my life.”