The LSU Tigers clinched a spot in the men’s College World Series for the first time since 2017. Here’s three things they need to do in order to win it all.
The Tigers are heading into the College World Series after going a perfect 5-0 through the first two rounds of the men’s tournament. They defeated Tulane and Oregon State in the Regionals before sweeping Kentucky in two games in the Super Regionals. Now, the LSU Tigers open the Men’s College World Series (MCWS) with a matchup against Tennessee on Saturday at 6 p.m.
LSU must make their way out of bracket No. 2, which consists of Stanford, Tennessee and top overall seed Wake Forest, to advance to the MCWS final. Suffice it to say, the bracket is no cake walk. The Tigers won a series against Tennessee earlier in the year, but the Vols beat the brakes off LSU in their final game. Wake Forest has earned the nickname ‘Rake Forest’ for a reason, and it’s because they can hit the laces off the ball. Stanford was the 8th overall seed in the tournament and remains on a roll since their Regional.
So, with all that being said, how can the Tigers come out on top and bring the trophy back to Baton Rouge for the first time since 2009?
It’s no secret that Paul Skenes has been absolutely dominant in his first season with the LSU Tigers. Skenes was the best pitcher in college baseball, posting a 12-2 record with a 1.77 ERA and has 188 strikeouts to just 65 hits. As a result, LSU fans are accustomed to the Tigers winning any games Skenes starts.
Outside of Skenes, the pitching has been a bit shaky for LSU. Ty Floyd has quietly been really good for the Tigers, but known to let a few pitches get away from him. But, of course, it takes is one poorly timed mistake in the MCWS to send a team home. After Floyd, a mixture of Christian Little, Thatcher Hurd and Riley Cooper have made up the Sunday starter this year.
Luckily for the Tigers, their pitching staff has looked better than it has all season since the start of the Baton Rouge Regional. As a staff, they’ve allowed just 17 runs in five games, or an average of 3.4 per game.
The Tigers have also found their closer, and his name is Gavin Guirdy. The freshman from Lake Charles has been pure electricity on the mound. In the NCAA Tournament, he’s thrown five strikeouts and allowed two hits in 3.1 innings as a closer. The lights are never too bright for Guidry, and he should be an integral part in this teams success in the MCWS.
Want your voice heard? Join the Death Valley Voice team!
Keep the Bats Hot
The Tigers offense has turned back the clock since the start of the NCAA Tournament. The offense has been reminiscent of the ‘Gorilla Ball’ days of LSU in the 90’s. They have outscored their opponents 48-17 and have hit 16 home runs in the NCAA tournament so far.
In game one versus Kentucky, the offense went berserk. They scored 14 runs on 15 hits and scored in all but two innings against Kentucky’s ace, Zack Lee. Four different Tigers recorded 2+ hits while Tre Morgan and Tommy White both hit two homers in the game.
While game two was a little less action packed, the offense was still hot. Every single starter for LSU recorded one hit. Only Cade Beloso went yard in game two, but we saw Dylan Crews bring one home on a fielder’s choice before smoking a two-run double to left field in his final at bat in Alex Box Stadium.
If the offense can stay hot and maintain their 9.8 runs per game average in the MCWS, the Tigers are going to be a tough out for anybody they play.
Take it One Pitch at a Time
Head Coach Jay Johnson said the one thing written on the wall as you walk into the dugout is the phrase ‘One pitch at a time’. He’s put a huge emphasis on helping his players stay in the moment and not let the lights get too bright. Only a handful of players on this LSU team have been to Omaha, and none of them have done it in an LSU uniform before.
Coach Johnson trusts his team, and he knows that when the lights come on and it’s time to play, they’ll be ready. They’ve proven they can show up and win on any given night against any given opponent, but outside of a couple transfers, this game against Tennessee will be the biggest game of their lives.
Coach Johnson spoke about how he wants the players to enjoy every moment of this experience. From the first practice to the first game, he wants them to take in everything, but he also wants them to remain focused on the task at hand. Coach Johnson has put together a team of winners, but it’s time to see what they can do under the brightest lights in college baseball.
This team has all the tools that you need to win a College World Series. They have efficient starting pitchers, a bullpen who’s been improving all year, world class hitters and a much improved defense from last season. It’s time for Coach Johnson and the boys to put it all together and bring home some hardware.