Pack your bags, LSU’s going back to Omaha.
The Tigers clinched their ticket Sunday to the College World Series with a 6-3 victory against Louisiana-Lafayette to sweep the Super Regional. LSU will make its 17th appearance in the CWS, the first since 2013 and the fourth under Paul Mainieri.
LSU broke open a scoreless tie with a home run in the seventh before busting it open with a four-run eighth. The Tigers got 7 2/3 innings of one-run ball from Jared Poché and held off a late ULL rally to seal the victory.
LSU remains undefeated in the NCAA Tournament and earned its 53rd victory of the season.
“We won 52 ballgames going into tonight,” Mainieri said. “And if we hadn’t won that 53rd game, somehow the season would have felt unfulfilled in so many ways. This team deserves to go to Omaha…and I couldn’t be more proud.”
LSU seemed mired still in the offensive slump that had plagued it since the Baton Rouge Regional. The Tigers had only two hits through the first six innings and advanced just one runner into scoring position.
ULL freshman Gunner Leger had baffled LSU from the mound. He’d retired 12 of the last 13 batters before Kade Scivicque came to bat with one out in the seventh.
He took advantage of a fastball inside and crushed it well past the left field bleachers.
“It’s nothing shy of what they talked it up to be,” Scivicque said of going to Omaha. “This is unbelievable for me.”
That put a jolt in a capacity crowd at Alex Box Stadium, and LSU rode the momentum to an even bigger eighth inning.
The Tigers would expand its lead to 5-0 after that frame. Danny Zardon got it going with a leadoff walk and Chris Sciambra replaced him on the bases. Mark Laird’s infield single put two on. Both runners advanced into scoring position on a groundout.
That brought up Alex Bregman, who entered that at-bat hitless in the NCAA Tournament. He took a first-pitch ball then sent a base hit straight back up the middle to give the Tigers some cushion.
Conner Hale made it 5-0 two at-bats later with a triple to right.
“We haven’t swung the bats like we’re capable,” Bregman said. “But we’re going to be ready to play in Omaha.”
The Cajuns didn’t go down quietly though. They had mounted threat after threat against Poché, getting a runner in scoring position with one out in four of the first six innings. Poché escaped each one of those jams though, as the Cajuns went 0-for-7 in that stretch with runners in scoring position.
Poché got helped by a pair of inning-ending double plays, including one in the sixth on a liner to Jared Foster.
Poché had one of his best innings of the game after that. Pitching with a lead for the first time, he worked a perfect seventh with two strikeouts to set up the Tigers’ big offensive outburst in the top of the eighth.
“Jared Poché is one of those pitchers that when you give him a lead, he shifts it into another gear,” Mainieri said. “There’s an extra competitive juice running through his veins and he just smells victory. That’s when he’s at his best.”
ULL did finally get to him in the bottom of that inning though. He gave up a leadoff double and another hit to put runners on the corners with one out. ULL CF Kyle Clement grounded out, but it was enough to score the run and end Poché’s night.
The Cajuns continued to make it interesting from there. Facing a 6-1 hole entering the final inning, ULL mounted a small comeback to turn The Box tense.
ULL got a leadoff single in the ninth against Zac Person. Pinch-hitter Kennon Fontenot followed that two at-bats later with an RBI-triple.
LSU brought in Parker Bugg and he induced a sacrifice fly with his first pitch. The next one got popped in the infield and caught by Chris Chinea to send the Tigers to the College World Series.
“It’s definitely a dream for all these [guys] that come and play at LSU,” Poché said. “We’re just living in the moment now and enjoying it.”
LSU will play its first game of the CWS on Sunday against either TCU or Texas A&M. The schedule won’t be announced until all Super Regionals conclude Monday.
LSU's going back to Omaha
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