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LSU tops No. 1 Wake Forest 5-2 to set up a rematch for a spot in the College World Series finals

LSU's Cade Beloso celebrates as he approaches home plate after hitting a three-run home run against Wake Forest during the third inning of a baseball game at the NCAA College World Series in Omaha, Neb., Wednesday, June 21, 2023. (AP Photo/Rebecca S. Gratz)

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Cade Beloso hit a go-ahead three-run homer, freshman Griffin Herring pitched 4 2/3 innings of shutout relief in his longest outing and LSU defeated No. 1 national seed Wake Forest 5-2 on Wednesday night to stay alive in the College World Series.

The Tigers (51-16) forced a second bracket final Thursday night and the winner will advance to play Florida in the best-of-three championship series that starts Saturday. The Gators clinched a spot with a 3-2 win over TCU.

Wake Forest (54-11) will look to bounce back from its first loss in its eight NCAA Tournament games. The Demon Deacons, who have not lost consecutive games this season, are trying to reach the championship round in its first CWS appearance since their 1955 team won the national title.

LSU hopes to set up a rematch of the 2017 finals, which Florida won.

The Tigers erased a 2-0 deficit in the third inning when Dylan Crews scored on a wild pitch to tie it and Beloso launched Seth Keener’s 2-0 fastball into the right-field bullpen. As Beloso approached the plate, he pulled his helmet off, chest-bumped Gavin Dugas and slapped Tre’ Morgan’s arm — and then all three did cross-arm flexes in front of their celebrating dugout.

It was only the fourth homer surrendered by Keener in 69 innings this season.

Herring, who hadn’t pitched since June 5 and had never gone more than three innings, steadied the Tigers after starter Javen Coleman and Blake Money combined to get just five outs.

The left-hander entered with LSU down two runs and held one of the country’s top offenses scoreless. Herring allowed three hits, walked one and struck out six. He left with runners at the corners and one out in the sixth.

Gavin Guidry came on and struck out national home run co-leader Brock Wilken and Justin Johnson to end the threat. The Deacons got two runners on in the eighth before Riley Cooper, who shut out Tennessee over the last three innings Tuesday, got Tommy Hawke to line out.

Cooper, who earned his second save in as many nights and third of the season, worked around a leadoff walk in the ninth to strike out Nick Kurtz and Wilken and got Johnson to ground out to end the game.