Thanks to LSU’s 7-4 victory over Florida State Wednesday, the Tigers get another shot at Oregon State. Only this time, there is a major caveat.
In order to keep their season alive and advance to the CWS Final, LSU has to beat Oregon State twice in a row, today and tomorrow. A loss and LSU’s season will end.
Call today the Gateway Game, or a Revenge Game if that floats your boat better.
In case you already erased it from memory, in their previous meeting Oregon State took advantage of self-inflicted mistakes by the Tigers and took them to the woodshed, 13-1.
Alex Lange will start for the Tigers for the second time in the 2017 College World Series and today he will simply have to be better than he was in the last game when he gave up four runs, all earned, in seven innings pitched for the Tigers against Florida State. As LSU fans should know, Oregon State can and will capitalize on any mistake and Lange does not have the same margin of error as he did against Florida State.
That’s partly because Oregon State has not yet decided on a starter, but it is between ace Jake Thompson or ace coming off of injury Drew Rasmussen. Thompson was the Beavers’ Saturday for the season with a 1.52 ERA in 118 innings pitched with a 3.14 K/BB (113/36), but was touched hard by Cal State Fullerton where he allowed five runs before four innings of work.
Thompson is only the team ace because of the Heimlich situation and the fact that Rasmussen missed most of the season coming off of Tommy John surgery. But since he returned in April he’s been back into form: .79 ERA in 22.2 innings pitched with a 4.80 K/BB (24/5) and holding opponents to a .194 batting average against. The sample size is small but it’s an impressive start for a pitching coming off of Tommy John.
It doesn’t who is pitching for the Beavers, in order to stay alive LSU has to be better in every aspect of the game than they were Monday to have a puncher’s chance at the Beavers. Lange needs to suppress the Beavers for as long as he possibly can while the LSU bats keep the pressure on Oregon State. If Monday night was LSU’s worst effort on the year, then tonight needs to be their best yet. LSU is the more talented team, but Oregon State just played better baseball than they did Monday. LSU needs to at least meet their level and then let talent take over.
It’s not impossible. It’s been done before, hell it was done last year when Coastal Carolina dropped the 1-0 game as well to TCU and stormed back to beat TCU twice. And it’s been done by LSU before. But in order to do it, LSU needs to play their best level of baseball that they possibly can.
Are they up to the task?