The Tigers began their afternoon by posing for a team photo before conducting a one-hour workout on the playing surface. LSU then engaged in an autograph session, enjoyed a barbecue dinner for the eight CWS teams and participated in the Opening Ceremonies to conclude the first-day festivities.
“It doesn’t surprise me that we’re here,” Mainieri, in his second year at the helm of the program, said. “We all know you win with talent, but you also win with character. Our kids have rallied around the synergy concept. One player is not greater than the team.”
Mainieri, who directed Notre Dame to Omaha in 2002, is the 10th coach to lead more than one school to the College World Series. He is also the second coach to lead both a “Northern” school and a “Southern” school to the CWS. The other is Dave Van Horn, who has guided Nebraska and Arkansas to Omaha.
Verdugo, a product of Lake Stevens, Wash., is 9-3 this season with a team-best 3.90 ERA. He has worked 92.1 innings, recording 36 walks and 82 strikeouts while limiting opponents to a .249 batting average.
Verdugo will be opposed on the mound Sunday by North Carolina sophomore right-hander Alex White (10-3, 2.75 ERA).