The Florida Gators are one win away from becoming college baseball national champions after their 4-3 Game 1 win in the 2017 College World Series against their SEC rivals, the LSU Tigers, on Monday night.
NCAA baseball shared the highlights from an exciting opening contest:
The two teams will face off again Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Nebraska, with Florida as the home team. A win this evening would give the Gators their first national title in program history, while LSU is looking to stay alive and earn its seventh championship.
The Tigers will send Jared Poche' to the mound, while Florida will counter with Tyler Dyson.
So, heading into the crucial contest, what are the players and managers saying?
Florida head coach Kevin O'Sullivan, for one, is hardly considering a Gators title a foregone conclusion.
"We got six hits tonight, and Brady [Singer] had to pitch his tail off," O'Sullivan told Mike Malloy of the Miami Herald, referencing how Singer allowed just three runs in seven innings while striking out 12 Tigers. "We’re going to [have] to play better."
He reiterated that point to Anthony Chiusano of NCAA.com, noting: "Is it exciting we have Game 1 under our belt? Yeah, but tomorrow we're going to have to play better. That's the message."
Former Florida pitcher and current Oakland Athletic Logan Shore wished his squad good luck:
In the other dugout, LSU head coach Paul Mainieri was confident his team would respond to the Game 1 loss.
"We respect the University of Florida, but we feel like we're right there with them," he told Chiusano. "And we've got one of our guys going tomorrow. Jared Poche' has been a warrior for us for four years."
LSU slugger Greg Deichmann agreed.
"We're not hanging our heads about anything," he said, per Eric Olson of the Associated Press (h/t Newsday). "We had a lot of great stuff we did tonight. We had a couple of tough breaks that didn't go our way. We're going to come out tomorrow with a lot of positivity, energy and get after it."
And LSU second baseman Cole Freeman noted that the Tigers find themselves in a familiar position.
"It's kind of the same thing we faced with Oregon State—backs are against the wall," he told Mitch Sherman of ESPN.com. "One game and it's over for us. But you know what you're going to get from [Poche' and Alex Lange, who will start Game 3 if necessary]. They're going to be consistent. They're not going to give up much."
Indeed, LSU beat Oregon State—the best team in college baseball in the regular season and No. 1 overall seed—in two straight games to reach the final. The Beavers had been 56-4 before facing LSU, so suffice to say, the Tigers earned any confidence they'll bring into Tuesday night's contest.