Tigers face elimination against Gamecocks

OMAHA, Neb. -- The LSU Tigers (46-18) face SEC rival South Carolina (50-16) at 1 p.m. Monday in a College World Series elimination game at Rosenblatt Stadium.

LSU and South Carolina are meeting in a CWS elimination contest for the second straight year. The Gamecocks defeated the Tigers, 11-10, in the 2003 CWS, giving LSU its second 0-2 Series mark in 12 trips to Omaha.

The Tigers will attempt to avoid a similar fate on Monday, as they dropped into the elimination bracket with a 9-5 loss to Miami (Fla.) on Saturday.

LSU dropped its CWS opener Saturday for the fifth time in its 13 appearances in Omaha. The Tigers' best finish after starting the CWS 0-1 came in 1989 when LSU was 2-2 and placed third.

South Carolina, which is in the CWS for the third straight year, suffered a 2-0 defeat to Cal State Fullerton Saturday.

The winner of the LSU-South Carolina game plays at 6 p.m. Tuesday against the loser of Monday's Miami-Cal State Fullerton contest.

LSU and South Carolina are meeting for the fourth time this season, as the Tigers won two of three games at Columbia on March 19-21 in the first weekend of SEC play.

"Although we have played (South Carolina) already this season, they're a much better ball club now," said LSU coach Smoke Laval. "We faced them very early in the season, and they were dealing with some injuries at that time. We're familiar with their players, but we still need to re-focus in our preparation because they have improved a great deal since March."

The Tigers captured a 6-3, 11-inning contest in Game 1 at USC before the Gamecocks rebounded for a 12-5 win in Game 2. LSU won the series with a 12-7 victory in the weekend finale.

Laval announced Sunday afternoon that junior left-hander Lane Mestepey (7-3, 3.43 ERA) will be the Tigers' starting pitcher Monday versus South Carolina.

Mestepey will make his first career College World Series appearance on Monday. He was scheduled to start the CWS opener against Miami Saturday; however, soreness in Mestepey's shoulder and neck caused by the "dogpile" celebration after LSU's Super Regional victory forced Laval to delay the left-hander's CWS debut.

Mestepey earned the Game 2 Super Regional win over Texas A&M by firing a five-hit shutout.

"Mestepey deserves the opportunity to pitch here in Omaha," Laval said. "As long as he's healthy, and he feels right, he's going to start."

The Gamecocks are scheduled to counter with junior right-hander Aaron Rawl (12-4, 4.29 ERA).

The Mestepey-Rawl encounter is a rematch of Game 2 of the regular season series on March 20 in Columbia. Rawl earned the victory in that contest, allowing five runs (three earned) on 10 hits in 6.2 innings with one walk and three strikeouts.

Mestepey was not involved in the decision; however, he pitched just three innings, marking his shortest outing as a starter during his collegiate career.

Mestepey surrendered five runs (four earned) on four hits with three walks and no strikeouts before yielding to reliever Jordan Faircloth in the fourth inning.

LSU leads the all-time series with South Carolina, 21-11-1, as the teams first met in 1992, when the Gamecocks joined the SEC. USC holds a 7-6 advantage over LSU in the teams' 13 meetings in last three seasons.

LSU is making its 13th appearance in the College World Series in the past 19 seasons. The Tigers have made previous Omaha trips in 1986, ?87, ?89, ?90, ?91, ?93, ?94, ?96, ?97, ?98, 2000 and 2003.

LSU has won CWS titles in 1991, 1993, 1996, 1997 and 2000. The Tigers? cumulative CWS record is 29-16 (.644).

GAME FACTS -- #3 South Carolina (50-16) vs. #6 LSU (46-18)

DATE/TIME: Monday, June 21 - 1 p.m.
STADIUM: Rosenblatt Stadium - Omaha, Neb. (26,327)
RANKINGS: LSU (#6 Collegiate Baseball, #7 Baseball America); South Carolina (#3 Baseball America, #7 Collegiate Baseball)
RADIO: LSU Sports Network, including flagship WDGL-FM 98.1 in Baton Rouge
www.LSUsports.net; www.ncaasports.com

Lane Mestepey (7-3, 3.43 ERA, 94.1 IP, 26 BB, 41 SO)
USC ? Jr. RHP Aaron Rawl (12-4, 4.29 ERA, 115.1 IP, 16 BB, 93 SO)

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