OMAHA, Neb. — LSU missed its mark Monday night, and not just on the scoreboard.
The Tigers pitching staff — all eight players who saw action, tying a College World Series record — allowed 12 walks against Oregon State.
It was the most walks in a game during the Paul Mainieri era and the most since matching the mark against Central Florida in 2000. You have to go back to 1998 to find a game in which LSU walked more batters.
Combine that with two wild pitches and a hit batter, and it was one of the worst nights LSU has had on the mound in more than a decade.
“It was tough,” Mainieri said. “Best pitch in baseball is a strike. I’ve seen a lot of games in my life — over 2,000 of them — but when you walk a lot of batters, you greatly reduce your chances of winning. I’ve learned that.”
The game started with freshman Eric Walker throwing relatively well, with the exception of a lone earned run.
But his outing ended unexpectedly early after an arm injury just before the start of the third inning.
It was all downhill from there.
The Tigers threw almost every arm they had available in the bullpen to stop the bleeding against the Beavers, but to no avail.
Before he left, Walker did not walk any of the seven batters he faced. His successors did not fare as well.
The next four pitchers LSU sent to the mound walked at least two batters a piece, headlined by Hunter Newman, who sent four Beavers to first base without a swing of the bat.
More than 60 percent of Newman’s 38 pitches landed outside the strike zone. As a team, 90 of LSU’s 197 pitches went for balls.
“Some of the guys we brought in haven’t pitched a lot, and that’s probably why,” Mainieri said. “They haven’t thrown enough strikes to pitch a lot. Hopefully the next time they get opportunities, they’ll be a little bit better. Nick Bush came in and got a couple of big outs for us and then walked the leadoff batter the next inning.
“We just have to get better from there. I know the kids are trying, and it’s a tough environment for their first time in a College World Series. Hopefully if they get other opportunities this week, they’ll be a little bit better.”
Bush walked two of the three batters he faced.
Conversely, the Tigers struck out eight Beavers. It was only the seventh time this season they have walked more batters than they struck out.
It’s little consolation after a double-digit loss, but Oregon State has been effective at taking pitches all season. Coming into the game, the Beavers’ 284 walks on the year were 25th-most in the country.
The team that leads the NCAA in bases on balls, Florida State, took LSU for only five walks in the CWS opener Saturday.
“They’re definitely a scrappy offense,” said LSU reliever Caleb Gilbert, who walked two. “I thought I was making good pitches, and they would foul it off and I’d have to go right back at it and do it again. (OSU) was getting me deep in counts, as far as running up my pitch counts a little bit. I just couldn’t get that put-away in crunch time.”