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Wednesday Wayback: 1993 LSU v. Wichita St.



LSU's athletic program was at a bit of a crossroads in 1993. The football program was still mired in the Curley Hallman era, and the less said about that, the better. Shaq had gone to the NBA and while the string of NCAA tournament appearances was still intact, we didn't know it yet, but the Dale Brown era was about to end as poorly as one could imagine. This is the time that Skip Bertman built the baseball program into a dynasty.

Still, if college baseball is a bit out of the mainstream today, it was completely off the radar in 1993. Coverage was almost non-existent, and the championship game was the first time most people saw either team all year, if at all. So let's go to the videotape, as usual, courtesy of rnolan53's YouTube channel:

Intro: Holy 1980's intro, Batman! Wichita State's uniforms clearly hadn't been updated since the 1970s with that lovely yellow and brown color scheme. And come on, tricolor hats! Darren Driefort was the #2 overall pick and was considered the greatest thing in college baseball at the time. He was unable to pitch in this game, so he appeared a DH.

We should also mention just how awesome LSU's run was in 1993. Jim Greeley hit two runs and had 5 RBI, all from the 7th inning or later to win the opener against Long Beach St. Then, down 7-2 to Texas A&M, LSU rallied back to post a 13-8 win, capped off by Todd Walker's grand slam. LSU and Long Beach played two more classics, both coming down to the final at bat. The Beach won the first, scoring four runs in their final at bat to win 10-8. LSU allowed 2 runs in the 9th in the second game to fall behind 5-3, only to rally back and win 6-5. LSU had come from behind in every single one of their wins in Omaha. That wouldn't be an issue in the final game.

1st inning: Ho hum. Todd Walker hit another home run. It's hard to describe just how great Todd Walker was at LSU, but I still think he is the single greatest position player to ever don the purple and gold. Which makes the fact that Alex Bregman is attacking some of his freshman records truly remarkable. You simply don't compare LSU players to Walker. He was always a cut above, and he got this game started off right. He did that a lot.

2nd inning: Rios' sac fly scores the fourth run. Armando Rios is one of those players who kind of gets lost in the history of the program. He was the kind of guy who just continually came up huge in big games. This was no different. Te freshman Wyckoff gets pulled after 1.1 IP, and ends up getting charged with 5 runs on 3 hits. The game was essentially over already.

3rd inning: Rios drives in two more because, hey, why not? The score was 7-0 after three, and now we're getting into general silliness. There was simply no chance Wichita St. was coming back, but there was still some business to attend to.

4th-8th inning: Brett Laxton pitched the game of his life on this day. It's a lot easier to be aggressive when you've got a 7-run cushion, but he would strike out 16 batters on the day. If the LSU fielders had decided to go get a hot dog, Laxton still probably wins the game on his own. He threw a three-hitter, and had one of the dominant pitching performances in LSU history.

9th inning: Armando Rios drove in his fourth run of the game on his second sac fly of the game. LSU went up 8-0, and it was just rubbing salt in the wound at this point. Laxton closed things out in the bottom half, and the dynasty was on.

The first time is always special, but this is when we knew that LSU was not going to be some fly-by-night program. We were a national power, even if the rest of the country hadn't really caught on to the sport yet. That was coming, and this team was one of the major steps into the modern era of college baseball.