OMAHA, Neb. – LSU designated hitter Cade Beloso launched a go-ahead three-run homer in the bottom of the third inning to lift the Tigers to a 5-2 victory over No. 1 national seed Wake Forest Wednesday night at Charles Schwab Field.
With the win, LSU – the No. 5 NCAA national seed – improved to 51-16, and the Demon Deacons dropped to 54-11.
The Tigers return to action Thursday at 6 p.m. CT to take on Wake Forest for the third time in Omaha. The winner clinches a spot versus Florida in the College World Series Championship Series that begins Saturday night.
Thursday’s LSU-Wake Forest matchup is scheduled for a 6 p.m. CT first pitch on ESPN2, and it can be heard on LSU Sports Radio Network affiliates and www.LSUsports.net/live.
“Great performance tonight by our team,” said LSU coach Jay Johnson. “I thought it was a great team win. We had a little bit of adversity early in the game there, and really responded offensively. In the second inning, we took some really good at-bats.
“And, the big inning obviously there in the third with a great one by Cade.”
LSU left-hander Griffin Herring (5-2) entered the game in relief after the Tigers allowed two runs in the second inning. He enjoyed an impressive performance and quieted the Demon Deacon bats for the remainder of his outing. Herring worked 4.2 scoreless innings while striking out a career-high six and limiting Wake Forest to three hits.
Left-hander Riley Cooper earned his third save of the CWS after entering the game in the eighth and recording the final four outs. He finished the contest with 1.1 innings pitched, allowing no runs on no hits with one walk and two strikeouts.
“I was really proud of the pitching staff,” Johnson said. “Everybody contributed tonight. Griffin really settled into the game and got us the length that we needed. And Riley finished off another one. So good performance and we’ll turn it over to tomorrow.”
Wake Forest opened the scoring in the top of the second inning on a two-RBI single from centerfielder Tommy Hawke.
The Tigers narrowed the Demon Deacons’ lead in the bottom half with an RBI double from rightfielder Brayden Jobert. The frame began with a walk by Beloso, who advanced to second on a wild pitch and scored on the double down the line.
LSU was able to tie the game in the third on an errant pitch from the Wake Forest starting pitcher Seth Keener. Centerfielder Dylan Crews led the inning off via a walk and first baseman Tre’ Morgan singled to right field. Second baseman Gavin Dugas walked, and with Beloso at the plate, Crews scored on a wild pitch to tie it a 2-2.
Beloso followed up with a three-run shot to put the Tigers ahead 5-2. It was his 15th dinger of the season and proved to be the game-winning blow for LSU.
Keener (8-2) suffered the loss as he was charged with five runs on four hits in 4.1 innings with four walks and four strikeouts.