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Louisiana State University won the Men’s College World Series against Florida on June 18–4 in the finale of the best-of-three finals. This was the Tigers 19th appearance in the MCWS and their seventh time bringing the championship trophy back to Baton Rouge.

The six teams eliminated from MCWS before the finals were Tennessee, Oral Roberts University, Texas Christian University, Stanford, Virginia and Wake Forest.

LSU won the first game of the final series against the Gators with a walk-off homer in the 11th inning by sophomore third-baseman Tommy White, making the score 4–3. Game two went to Florida who won with a score of 24–4. The 24 runs scored by the Gators set a new record for runs by a team in a single MCWS game. Two-way player Jac Caglianone broke out of his MCWS slump during the game. The pitcher-first baseman hit two home runs, bringing his season total to 33, and become the NCAA’s single-season record home run holder in the BBCOR bat era (since 2011).

Caglianone was the starting pitcher in the third game against the Tigers. He pitched just 1⅓ innings with 46 pitches; he left the mound with LSU having scored three and the bases loaded, and he also hit two batters. Florida didn’t ever get a lead on the Tigers.

Among those suiting up in purple and gold were the projected top two 2023 MLB draft prospects. LSU center fielder Dylan Crews is expected to go first in the draft, followed immediately by right-handed pitcher Paul Skenes. (Although some mock drafts have them reversed.)

Skenes, who was selected as the MCWS Most Valuable Player, made two starts in Omaha. He started the Tigers’ first game of the CWS on June 17, throwing 123 pitches against Tennessee, and then he pitched eight innings against Wake Forest in the semifinals on June 22.

During that game against Wake Forest, Skenes broke both the SEC and LSU records for strikeouts in a single season, with 203 strikeouts. Previously the record belonged to former LSU ace Ben McDonald, who recorded 202 strikeouts in 152 ⅓ innings during the 1989 season. Skenes broke the record in 116 ⅔ innings.

Skenes played the 2021 and ’22 seasons as a pitcher and catcher for the Air Force Academy before transferring to LSU and becoming a full-time pitcher. When he was at the Air Force his dream was to fly for the military; he now wants to eventually return to serving his country in some capacity after his baseball career is over. “There are a lot of different ways to serve your country, even your mailman is serving their country in their own way,“ he said.

LSU head Coach Jay Johnson said even though Skenes had only been in the program about a year, he had a big impact on the Tigers, and Johnson hopes the younger players took note. “I don’t think there’s another Paul Skenes in our locker room, and I don’t want anybody to try to be Paul Skenes, but I want them to take the things that he has shown and then emulate them the best way that they can to pay forward that contribution that they got from him,” Johnson said.

Crews said he respects how determined Skenes has been from the first day he put on the Tigers jersey. “He goes about himself like a Big Leaguer does, and if not probably way better,” Crews said. “So I have definitely taken notes of that. Just try to almost imitate him in every way possible because he has had a lot of success this year.”

Both Skenes and Crews approached Johnson separately to find out how they can keep the team’s momentum going after they leave LSU. “I’m thinking about [how] these guys have their entire life in front of them,” Johnson said. “They're going to make a lot of money and play in the Major Leagues, be All-Stars, win batting titles, Cy Young, potential Hall of Famers. That’s what’s in front of them. Yet, their mind is wrapped up around this when they’re not going to be here.”

Crews led the nation in runs scored and reached base at least once in every game he played in this year. The six-foot 205-pound junior from Longwood, Fla. was the 45th winner of the Golden Spikes Award.

Johnson, who is in his second season with LSU said part of the reason he agreed to leave Arizona to coach the Tigers is because of Crews. “Dylan is the best player in college baseball history, in my opinion,” he said. “And just so thankful.And frankly, it was a big reason that I accepted the job. I probably would have looked at LSU anyways, but knowing that I was going to have once-in-a-lifetime player on my team for two years was a big deal to do that.”

Playing in the MCWS is a dream come true for Crews. “Man, it’s something that I’ve wanted since I was a freshman walking into the locker room,” he said. “It’s just something that I have thought about every single day leading up to this point.” His second-to-last at-bat was a triple; once safely at third base he smiled and pointed to his ring finger.

Crews withdrew as a high school senior from the 2020 MLB Draft—even though he would have been a high selection—in order to attend LSU. After winning the MCWS, and thinking back on all the memories he made with the Tigers, he said going to college is the right choice. “So if I had to give any advice, it’s go to school, really,” he said. “Experience this. Don’t miss out on these three years. Just develop as a player, physically and mentally for the next level and everything will take care of itself.”

Teammate Thatcher Hurd, who lives with Skenes and has a locker next to Crews, said he is tried to learn from both. “I’m just super thankful I've got to share the field with those guys all year,” the righthanded pitcher said.

Whatever order Skenes and Crew are picked in the draft this week, Johnson said he doesn’t expect it to be long until both trade in their minor league jerseys for the Big Leagues. “I think … it will be a short arc in terms of minor league baseball to the big leagues,” he said.

And nothing will prepare them for the bigger stage more than MCWS, which had 24,878 fans in attendance for the finale. This set an all-time attendance record of a total of 392,946 fans. “So it’s a real opportunity for the players to accelerate their dream of becoming a Major League player some day and get to play in an environment like this, which is second to none,” Johnson said. “You won’t experience anything like a this unless you’re one of the very few that get to play in a Major League World Series.”