For the first time since 2017, thousands of LSU fans will travel to Omaha to watch its baseball team kick butt and to drink like its Mardi Gras.
LSU has a great chance to win the College World Series, especially when they have SEC Player of the Year winner outfielder Dylan Crews and Dick Howswer award winner pitcher Paul Skenes. Those two players will be the difference makers this weekend.
However, how will the rest of the team do? The Tigers have played their best baseball as they went undefetated in the Baton ROuge Regional and swept No. 12 national seed Kentucky in supers due to the performance of its bullpen as well as their bats coming together at the right time.
However, there are a lot of good teams in this edition of the College World Series with No.1 overall seed Wake Forest as well as Omaha regulars Stanford and Tennessee being on LSU’s side of the bracket.
These are three things LSU must do if they want to raise the national championship trophy next weekend.
The bullpen must keep its momentum
For a large portion of the season, LSU’s bullpen was the weakest link. Now, it is the backbone of the Tigers and will be a large reason why LSU could win the College World Series as the bullpen has had a 3.80 ERA in its last 12 games.
You could trace this change back to the SEC tournament, where the bullpen had a 0.90 ERA with two runs allowed on 15 hits, 23 strikeouts and seven walks in three games. In postseason play, LSU’s bullpen has a 2.25 ERA with 9 runs on 17 hits and 26 strikeouts in 15.6 innings pitched.
A lot of that has to do with the dominance of true freshman closer Gavin Guidry. In his last five outings, Guidry has a 1.40 ERA with 11 strikeouts and one run on four hits in 6.4 innings pitched.
Relievers Riley Cooper, Nate Ackenhausen and Griffin Herring along with the return of Javen Coleman from Tommy John have boosted LSU’s chances of winning the College World Series.
LSU’s bats have to come through at the plate against better pitching
During the postseason, LSU has batted .366 from the plate and has scored 48 runs on 67 hits. LSU also has recorded six doubles, two triples and 14 home runs. While this is impressive, the Tigers have two of the most talented and deepest pitching staffs of the country on its side of the bracket in Wake Forest and Tennessee.
When the Tigers went up against pretty good pitching rotations in Iowa and Texas when they were in the Austin metro area earlier this year, the Tigers struck out a combined 31 times and only hit the ball eight times.
Against Arkansas’ 1-2 punch of All-SEC performer Hagen Smith and Hunter Hollan, LSU has struck out 15 times in a 9-3 loss in the regular season on March 24 and struck out 17 times in a 5-4 loss to the Razorbacks in the SEC Tournament in Hoover, Ala.
With elite pitching staffs like Wake Forest, Tennessee and Florida in this tournament, they must make contact with the ball with runners in scoring position, take their free passes to first base and don’t strike out.
Ty Floyd and Thatcher Hurd have to deliver
Starting pitchers Ty Floyd and Thacher Hurd have been pitching well as of late. Floyd has a 3.70 ERA in his last five starts with 10 runs allowed on 25 hits, six walks and 34 strikeouts. In Hurd’s last three outings, he has posted a 5.36 ERA with nine runs on 14 hits, six walks and 21 strikeouts, including a 12-strikeout performance in LSU’s 6-5 victory over Oregon State in the Baton Rouge Regional.
Even though both Floyd and Hurd have been awesome the last few weeks, they both have glaring issues.
With Floyd, there are two issues: he eats up his pitch count too early and gives up too many home runs.
In his last two games, he has thrown 71 pitches against Oregon State and 82 pitches against Kentucky in just three innings. Floyd has given up 15 home runs on the season, including three multi-home run games In his last four outings, Floyd has allowed six home runs in his last five outings. LSU needs Floyd to step up, especially when all but one team in the College World Series has over 100 home runs.
Hurd has a similar problem with Floyd as he gives up too many home runs. In his last five outings, Hurd has allowed six home runs. This how more to do with ball control however as Hurd has struggled with his command this season which has led him either walking the batter or allowing hit after hit.
LSU needs both Floyd and Hurd to step up because the longer they stay on the mound, the more you can save your bullpen.