OMAHA, Neb. — When Oregon State takes the field at the College World Series on Monday, much of the attention will be paid to the Beavers’ 55 wins this season.
Not Paul Mainieri. All he sees is the four losses.
“They’ve lost four games. That tells you they’re beatable. Four out of 59,” Mainieri said with a laugh. “So you’re saying we have a chance?”
But LSU has more than just a chance to take down the nation’s No. 1 team.
OMAHA, Neb. — Eric Walker is a go for the College World Series.
In the past 17 games, the Tigers outscored opponents 141-49 and claimed, as Mainieri and players like to tout, the first five championships of the season: the Southeastern Conference Western Division, the SEC regular season, the SEC tournament, the NCAA regional tournament and the NCAA super regional, all without faltering once.
It’s the second longest winning streak in the country and the Tigers have looked invincible as they continue to fight off teams any way possible, from commanding blowouts to heart-stopping finishes.
But that’s the thing. It’s only the second longest streak.
The top spot goes to none other than the Beavers of Oregon State with 22 consecutive victories stretching to April 29.
Monday night is a matchup between two unstoppable forces set to collide in Omaha, and there’s a chance just about anything could happen.
The only thing for certain is one team has to go down.
“Both teams are outstanding,” Mainieri said. “Both teams are going to play with every bit of heart they have, and hopefully we score more runs than they do.”
Scoring more runs than the other team hasn’t been an issue for LSU over the last month.
In their previous 15 games, the Tigers posted nine or more runs 10 times. During the streak, the team is hitting a collective .305 at the plate with 19 home runs.
But as good as LSU has been at scoring runs, Oregon State has been at stopping them.
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The Beavers have the best ERA in the country at 1.86, which sits 0.79 better than the next closest team and 0.99 better than the next closest team in Omaha in Louisville.
On Monday, Oregon State will start sophomore right-hander Bryce Fehmel, who, at 5-2 this season, holds half of the Beavers’ losses.
And while Mainieri can joke about Fehmel’s “rough season” compared to his teammates, make no mistake LSU knows exactly what it’s walking into.
“We know (Fehmel is) going to throw strikes, and we’re going to put up some runs,” said LSU catcher Michael Papierski. “… Coach said he’s a pretty stocked righty, throws lots of strikes, pretty similar to Eric Walker.”
Walker will get the start for the Tigers as the clutch freshman who has stepped up to the challenge in some of LSU’s most high-profile games this year.
He led the Tigers to victory in the regular-season finale against Mississippi State to secure the SEC regular-season title, then again against Arkansas to take the conference tournament crown and then one final time against Rice to send LSU into the super regionals.
Walker (8-1) enters with a 3.46 ERA and allowing 81 hits, a low among LSU’s weekend starters.
“(LSU is) just so athletic,” Oregon State coach Pat Casey said. “I mean, it’s unbelievable the guys that they’re running out there. Then you run arms out there. (Zack Hess) came in there last night … and he was 94, 95 (mph fastball) with an 85 mph slider. I don’t know if there’s a more talented team in the World Series.”
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