LSU to play Florida State in World Series; Oregon St., Cal St. Fullerton also in bracket

BATON ROUGE - No. 4 national seed LSU (48-17) will play unseeded Florida State (45-21) in the College World Series at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Nebraska, on Saturday or Sunday as the Tigers defeated Mississippi State, 14-4, early Monday to win the Super Regional two games to none.

Game days, times and ESPN channels will be announced Monday night. Seven teams of the eight-team CWS field are in. No. 3 national seed Florida and Wake Forest will complete their Super Regional on Monday.

LSU defeated Mississippi State, 4-3, late Saturday night in the Super Regional opener. Florida State beat Sam Houston State, 7-6, in its Super Regional opener Saturday and won, 19-0, on Sunday. 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.

Also in LSU's four-team bracket is No. 1 national seed Oregon State (54-4), which advanced with 8-4 and 9-2 wins over Vanderbilt in the Super Regional. The Beavers 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, in 1998 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 and advance to Omaha.

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 No. 7 national seed Louisville (52-10) will meet in the other bracket, and No. 6 national seed TCU (47-16) plays the Florida-Wake Forest winner.

The Tigers have been to Omaha 18 times beginning in 1986, including five times under Coach Paul Mainieri (2008, '09, '13, '15 and '17) with the 2009 national championship. Mainieri was asked if this team has the best chance to win it all since the 2009 team.

"I don't know about that," he said. "We've had some pretty good teams go up there, but we didn't get to come back with much. There are seven other really good ball clubs up there along with us. We like to think we're just as good as anybody up there, but when you're playing that caliber of competition, you've got to play your best. You've got to minimize your mistakes. You've got to have a little bit of luck, and you've got to pitch as well as you can. We're looking forward to the challenge."

LSU shortstop Kramer Robertson was more succinct.

"This is not the end," he said. "We're ready to go."

POCHE, WALKER IN RELIEF? 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.

"Do you want to use Poche or Walker out of the bullpen in game one? The games are so spread out with off days," Mainieri said. "So, who's better equipped to come out of the bullpen? Who would you prefer to have starting in the second game?"

Poche (10-3, 3.42 ERA) has struggled in his last two starts. He allowed four runs on two hits with four walks and lasted just two and one-third innings against Mississippi State Sunday night. He gave up five hits with three walks in four and a third innings against Texas Southern in the NCAA Regional.

Junior right-handed ace Alex Lange (9-5, 2.92 ERA) will likely start LSU's CWS opener. Poche 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) has been LSU's best starter of late, but he will enter the CWS after two weeks off from pitching in a game. He has won three of his last four starts, including championship games of the Southeastern Conference Tournament on May 28 and the NCAA Regional on June 4.

"In 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. Monday 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."

© Gannett Co., Inc. 2017. All Rights Reserved


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