LSU to face Florida in College World Series Finals

LSU crunched No. 1 Oregon State's numbers all weekend, chewed them up, spit them out and crushed them into little bits with a 6-1 victory Saturday afternoon in the Bracket One championship game in front of 15,618 at TD Ameritrade Park.

Then the Tigers started throwing and hitting their numbers all over the park as if it was Rosenblatt Stadium.

LSU (51-18) advances to the best-of-three national championship series at 6 p.m. Monday against the Florida Gators. The Tigers will go for their seventh national championship and second under Coach Paul Mainieri. 

"A lot of steaks still to be eaten in this town," Mainieri said. "We're obviously very thrilled to be staying in Omaha for a few more days."

A few more days than Oregon State, which has been the No. 1 team in the nation for most of the season and pushed its record to 56-4 when it beat the Tigers, 13-1, on Monday night in winner's bracket final. They finished 56-6 after losing to LSU, 3-1, on Friday and by a combined 9-2 count over a Lost Weekend.

"They were coming right after us," Oregon State third baseman Michael Gretler said. "I think a lot of the game we were defensive - taking a lot of defensive swings. We didn't put any pressure on them."

LSU sophomore right-hander Caleb Gilbert - a battlefield promotion to the starting rotation when Eric Walker left the Oregon State game Monday night with an arm injury in the third inning - held the Beavers to two hits and one run over seven and a third innings for the win to go to 7-1.

Oregon State finished with three hits for its second lowest total of the season. They had two hits on Friday night for a season low. The previous low was four in a 1-0 win over Indiana in the season opener on Feb. 17.

"We just never really got anything going," Oregon State coach Pat Casey said.

Oregon State lost two straight games for the first time since the 2016 season.

The Beavers also now have the dubious distinction of having the best record (.903 winning percentage) of any team not to win the national championship since Texas finished 59-6 at .907 after being eliminated in the semifinals in 1982.

"They were an outstanding ballclub, one of the best," Mainieri said. "We faced an unbeatable team these last two games. To lose four games the entire season, and we beat them two days in a row. It's hard to predict those things, but that's why you have to play the games. Our kids embraced the challenge."

And threw around their own historical numbers.

Catcher and No. 8 batter Michael Papierski became the first player to hit home runs from both sides of the plate in the CWS at least since 1999 - not when someone else did that, but when that statistic began being recorded. He may be the first ever.

Papierski also became the first player to hit two home runs in the same game at the CWS in TD Ameritrade Park, which opened in 2011. He hit a three-run home run to right field batting left-handed in the second inning for a 3-0 lead, then hit a solo homer to left field in the fourth batting right handed for a 5-0 lead for his second and third homers of the CWS.

A junior from Lemont, Illinois, Papierski also became the first LSU player to hit home runs from both sides of the plate since Todd Linden at Alabama in 2001. He has 11 home runs on the year. 

"I've never done that before in my life," Papierski said.

Josh Smith, whose solo home run in the seventh Friday was the Tigers final run in a 3-1 win over Oregon State, walked with two outs to start the second inning rally off Beavers' starter Bryce Fehmel. Beau Jordan then slapped a double to left field, putting runners on second and third for Papierski.

Fehmel, who was a late change as the starter, beat LSU Monday night, 13-1, limiting the Tigers to two hits and one run in eight innings to go to 6-2 on the season. The original scheduled starter was sophomore right-hander Drew Rasmussen.

LSU doubled that hit total in the third inning Saturday and sent Fehmel to the showers as Antoine Duplantis singled in a run for a 4-0 lead. Kramer Robertson led off with a walk and reached second on a hit-and-run ground out by Cole Freeman. Brandon Eistert replaced Fehmel after the Duplantis single. He struck out Greg Deichmann looking before walking Zach Watson and striking out Smith to end the inning.

Beau Jordan gave LSU a 6-0 lead in the sixth with a solo home run to left field. 

The Tigers' seven home runs by their fifth game in this CWS are five more than they hit in their previous five games in TD Ameritrade when they went 0-2 in 2013 and 1-2 in 2015. Three of LSU's seven home runs in this CWS have been hit by freshmen - Smith, Watson and Jake Slaughter.

Fehmel (6-3) left after two and a third innings, having allowed four runs on four hits with two walks and one strikeout.

LSU starting pitcher Caleb Gilbert, meanwhile, rolled through the Oregon State lineup with a no-hitter through three innings before allowing one single in the fourth. He struck out four of the first six batters he faced, which he also did in relief on Monday in the 13-1 loss to the Beavers. Entering the fifth inning, Gilbert had allowed the one hit and no runs with one walk and five strikeouts.

Gilbert, a sophomore from Hoover, Alabama, ended up lasting a career-high seven and one third innings before being relieved by Zack Hess after allowing a solo home run to Michael Gretler as Oregon State cut LSU's lead to 6-1 in the eighth. Gilbert, who replaced injured starter Eric Walker in the rotation, gave up the one earned run on two hits with one walk and seven strikeouts to improve to 7-1 on the season.

"We were never in awe of Oregon State. We respected them, but we knew we'd have a chance to beat them," Gilbert said.

"We hit some home runs, but Caleb was the story of the game," Papierski said. "We never thought about that team's record. We knew they had to play us."

 

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