LSU Lives To Fight Another Day In College World Series
Cal State Fullerton's season is over. LSU's is not, after collecting the 5-3 elimination game victory in the College World Series.
It wasn't easy out in Omaha. It never is. The Titans jumped on Tiger freshman pitcher Alex Lange for three runs in the first inning. After tossing 25 pitches, he went back into the dugout with a heavy weight on his shoulders. Instead of letting it crush him, he buckled down and responded with an incredible outing. He retired 25 of the last 28 batters he faced on his way to the complete game victory. He didn't do it alone though. The bats decided to show up when they were needed most.
The Tigers broke out in the third, and guess who started it off? The recent second overall selection in the MLB Draft, Alex Bregman, led off the inning with a single. Jake Fraley tacked on another base knock right after, then Kade Scivicque brought Bregman home with the third straight hit. It was part of a six hit rally that resulted in four runs. The lead belonged to LSU after that, and they never gave it up.
Lange's performance after allowing the first three runs was near immaculate, but it's what Tiger fans have come to expect from their ace. The offense was the concern. Give credit to Head Coach Paul Mainieri for shifting things up in the lineup. Junior Outfielder Mark Laird thought it helped break them out of their funk and settle into a bit of a groove.
"Everyone was more relaxed," Laird said. "We came out more aggressive."
Aggression is a solid descriptor for the LSU bats on Tuesday. They outhit the Titans, 13-6. Laird broke out for a three hit day, but he was outdone by Bregman, who raked in four hits on his way to saying goodbye to his slight hitting slump. The RBI's were distributed one apiece to Laird, Scivicque, Chris Sciambra, Danny Zardon and Andrew Stevenson. Apparently, putting Bregman at the top of the lineup did the trick.
The shuffle on the lineup card played a part. Lange's guts on the mound were massive as well. The superstitious elements of baseball came to play too. The LSU players begged Mainieri to wear a jersey all year. He finally caved, and it helped keep his team stay alive in Omaha. It got TD Ameritrade off their backs.
"The curse of TD Ameritrade has been lifted," Mainieri shouted upon entering the Tiger locker room after the win.
With the bats finally awakening, the mojo flowing in the right direction, and their pitching and defense settling in out in Omaha...one of the best teams in college baseball could take any opponent on any night. All they need is the chance to keep playing, which their win over Cal State Fullerton ensured.
The Tigers will face the loser of Vanderbilt-TCU on Thursday at 7:00, with their season on the line again. Elimination games are pure drama. Don't miss it.