BATON ROUGE - If LSU advances to the College World Series next weekend either with a win over Mississippi State late Sunday night or - if necessary - on Monday in the Super Regional at Alex Box Stadium, the Tigers would be playing on Saturday or Sunday at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Nebraska, in Bracket Two.
Game days, times and ESPN channels will be announced Monday night and/or on Tuesday upon the completion of all Super Regional games.
The Tigers would play the winner of the rain delayed Super Regional at Tallahassee, Florida, between Florida State and Sam Houston State. Florida State won the opener, 7-6, on Saturday. LSU has not played the Seminoles in baseball since June 15, 2000, at the CWS and won, 6-3, to advance to the national championship game, in which it beat Stanford, 6-5. Florida State leads the all-time series, 9-7.
LSU won its only game against Sam Houston State, 8-5, on June 1, 2013, in the NCAA Baton Rouge Regional. Sam Houston State, a Southland Conference school in Huntsville, Texas, beat host Texas Tech in back-to-back games, 9-8 and 4-3, in the NCAA Regional in Lubbock, Texas, to reach the Super Regional round.
Also in Bracket Two of the eight-team CWS is No. 1 national seed Oregon State, which has already advanced to Omaha with 8-4 and 9-2 wins over Vanderbilt in the Super Regional. The Beavers (52-4) play in the CWS against Cal State Fullerton (38-21), which defeated Long Beach State, 12-0, Saturday, and, 2-1, Sunday after losing the Super Regional opener, 3-0, on Friday.
LSU just met Cal State Fullerton in a second round game of the CWS, which is where it could meet this year, in the 2015 season, and the Tigers won, 5-3, in an elimination game. The Tigers lead that series, 7-4, including a three-game sweep in the regular season in 2011. LSU also beat Cal State Fullerton in the NCAA South II Regional in Baton Rouge, 13-11, and, 14-3, to win that title and advance to Omaha. The Tigers defeated Cal State Fullerton, 7-3, to win the NCAA South II Regional in New Orleans in 1987.
The two four-team brackets are two separate, double-elimination tournaments at the CWS with the two champions meeting in a best-of-three title series on June 26-27 and - if necessary on June 28.
Texas A&M (41-21) and Louisville (52-10) have also already advanced to Omaha and will meet in a Bracket One game after defeating Davidson and Kentucky, respectively, in Super Regional play. The winners of Super Regionals between TCU and Missouri State and Florida and Wake Forest will meet on the other side of Bracket One in Omaha.
The Tigers have been to Omaha 17 times beginning in 1986, including four times under Coach Paul Mainieri (2008, '09, '13 and '15) with the 2009 national championship.
POCHE, WALKER IN RELIEF? LSU coach Paul Mainieri said he may use starting pitchers Jared Poche and/or Eric Walker in relief roles in addition to starting in Omaha, which is something former coach Skip Bertman did in winning the national title in 1997.
"If we're fortunate enough to get to Omaha, there may be some strategy with pitchers," Mainieri said last week. "Do you want to use Poche or Walker out of the bullpen in game one because the games are so spread out with off days. So, who's better equipped to come out of the bullpen? Who would you prefer to have starting in the second game?"
Junior right-handed ace Alex Lange (9-5, 2.92 ERA) will likely start LSU's CWS opener. Poche (10-3, 3.13 ERA entering Sunday night's start) has experience out of the bullpen. He relieved twice in 2016, including the NCAA Regional championship game against Rice in which he entered in the third inning on three days of rest and threw a one-hit shutout over six innings for the 5-2 win. Four days earlier, he struck out eight over six innings while allowing five hits for the 7-1 win over Utah Valley.
Walker (8-1, 3.46 ERA) would enter the CWS after two weeks off from pitching in a game, providing LSU beat Mississippi State on Sunday. Otherwise, Walker will start the Monday game. Walker has won three of his last four starts, including championship games of the Southeastern Conference Tournament and NCAA Regional.
"If we get to Omaha, those things you start thinking more about," Mainieri said.
Bertman started weekend starter Doug Thompson (12-3 in 1997) in LSU's CWS opener in '97 on May 30 and started him in the third game on June 4 before using him out of the bullpen in the championship game on June 7. Bertman also started weekend starter Patrick Coogan (14-3) in the second game on June 1 before using him for closing relief in the third game on June 4 and starting him on June 7.
MAJOR LEAGUE DRAFT: LSU junior right-hander Alex Lange is expected to go toward the latter part of the first round of the Major League Baseball Draft that starts at 6 p.m. on the MLB Network. He leads a host of LSU players expected to be drafted through the duration of the draft through Wednesday.
Lange pitched his last game at Alex Box Stadium Saturday night as he struck out 10 while allowing three hits and six walks in seven and two-thirds innings in a no-decision against Mississippi State. The Tigers won 4-3 with reliever Zack Hess getting the win.
"You saw the greatness of Alex Lange," Mainieri said.
Lange received a standing ovation as he left the game in the eighth even though he was losing 3-0.
"It was pretty cool," he said. "Obviously, you don't want to be down, but that's something I'll remember forever. This has been the greatest three years of my life."
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