That could not have gone any better.
The first day is the most important day for a CWS team, as it is extraordinarily difficult to come out of the loser's bracket and make the title game. Only two teams have done it in the past 10 years (South Carolina and Oregon St.). No LSU championship team has ever overcome a first day loss.
What's a win worth? The winner of LSU-Arkansas will be one win away, with two opportunities, from the title game. The loser of that game will need three straight wins to make the title game. CSF and UVa, the first day losers, must now win four straight games. It's not the number of wins, it's the sheer number of games. While the Game Five winner will sit back from Monday to Friday and explore the sites of Omaha (I highly recommend the zoo), the losers will keep eliminating each other and burning up their respective pitching staffs.
So, the win was huge. But, almost as good, second-seeded Cal State Fullerton lost without throwing their ace pitcher. CSF will be a tough out in the loser's game with their best pitcher on the mound, and LSU has now effectively avoided Daniel Renken for their stay in Omaha.
The hits keep on coming, as Arkansas will throw Brett Eibner, a righty, at LSU, having burned their lefty ace. Eibner went 3.2 innings against the Tigers in his last attempt, allowing four runs. We know we can hit this guy.
Not to belabor the point (ok, let's belabor the point), but the approach of the two seeded teams to their first game could not have been more different. And because of that, LSU is in the winner's bracket and CSF isn't.
CSF saved their ace for Monday, on the obviously false grounds that they felt Ramirez gave them the best chance to win. Wow, he shut down Utah and Louisville? Really? How did he do that? CSF held back Renken for their potential matchup with LSU in the marble game.
It was a bad move for several reasons, but primarily because it showed CSF's attitude. Even the ESPN announcers pointed to it when they talked about how CSF felt that they were the best team here and we're going to win the title. Well, there's plenty of teams in Omaha who feel they are the best team here, but none of the others have let it actually dictate strategy.
CSF took a win for granted and it bit them in the ass. You cannot take wins for granted in Omaha. Every team is good. Even teams that aren't that good are at least ridiculously hot. Does no one remember Fresno St winning a title? Last frickin' year?
Meanwhile, LSU went all out to win. I'm not saying CSF wasn't trying, but they did not employ a "damn the torpedoes" type of strategy. LSU did. Mainieri did not hesitate to pull Ranaudo when his ace was struggling. After he put Bertuccini in, he went straight to his #3 starter (Ross), followed by his lefty bullpen specialist (Jones), to his senior ace (Coleman), to his closer (Ott). No stone was left unturned.
Winning on Day One matters. It matters a lot. Mainieri understood that fact, which is why his team is sitting pretty today.