OMAHA, Neb. — On the biggest stage with the season on the line, Jared Poché delivered.
The senior left-hander threw eight magnificent innings Wednesday night, lead LSU to a 7-4 win against Florida State, sending the Tigers to the College World Series final four. It was Poché’s 39th career victory, setting the new standard as the winningest pitcher in LSU history.
"If you would’ve told me four years ago that in four short years you’re going to be in Omaha and you’re going to break the all-time wins record, there is no way I was going to believe that," Poché said.
With the win, LSU (50-18) will get a chance to test itself once more against Oregon State (56-4). The teams meet again at 2 p.m. Friday at TD Ameritrade Park.
The Tigers must beat the Beavers twice to advance to the CWS championship series.
As for Poché, the only blemish on an otherwise masterful outing was his effort in the ninth. He threw four pitches, and two of them left the yard for solo home runs.
LSU called on freshman right-hander Zack Hess to finish the game, and Hess slammed the door for his third save of the year, striking out three of the four batters he faced.
"Boy, was he letting it rip," LSU coach Paul Mainieri said. "He was really something else."
But the story of the night was Poché (12-3), who held down a potent Florida State lineup by attacking the strike zone (two walks, 67 of 102 pitches for strikes) and letting his defense work.
The Seminoles, who lead the nation in walks, never got a big rally going with free passes Wednesday. Against Poché, they were forced to score almost exclusively with the long ball.
"Jared was just rough on us," Florida State coach Mike Martin said. "He pitched a beautiful ballgame. And we did everything we could to get him out of the ballgame, and he kept performing. And you tip your hat to him. He's a very good competitor."
Poché spent almost his entire day pitching with a lead, as his teammates wasted little time jumping all over Seminoles starter Cole Sands.
Greg Deichmann started it with a double to right field, and it wasn’t the typical Deichmann power display that got him to second. He looped a ball over the first baseman’s head, then aggressively made the turn at first base, sliding in just in front of the tag.
LSU followed with back-to-back singles to take a 1-0 lead. A Beau Jordan squeeze bunt made it 2-0. An error on the second baseman put two runners aboard for Jake Slaughter.
Slaughter — making his first start in Omaha — demolished an 0-1 pitch over the left-field wall to give LSU a very loud 5-0 lead in the second inning.
That marked the end of the day for Sands, whom LSU tagged for five runs on four hits in the inning.
Before the game, the Seminoles were deciding between Sands and fellow right-hander Andrew Karp.
If Wednesday’s game was any indication, Florida State should’ve opted for Karp. He checked in for Sands after the Slaughter home run and stabilized the game.
Over the next 5.1 innings, Karp kept the LSU lineup at bay, striking out seven and allowing just five base runners.
But Florida State never took advantage of Karp’s outing. Drew Mendoza cut into the Tigers' lead when he hit a two-out solo home run to the opposite field, and Quincy Nieporte scored a run with a sacrifice fly in the seventh.
Outside of that, the Seminoles' best chances were thwarted, either by Poché or LSU’s defense.
A leadoff walk in the third inning was followed by a pair of ground balls, the last of which ended the inning in a 5-4-3 double play.
The Seminoles looked like they were fanning some life into a rally in the fifth with back-to-back singles to lead off, but it fizzled even quicker with a rare 5-4 double play.
LSU will send Alex Lange to the mound Friday against top-seeded Oregon State.
“It’s going to take our very best effort to be able to have any success against them, but we’re looking forward to it,” Mainieri said.