LSU (48-17-1) is making its first CWS appearance since 2004. North Carolina (51-12) has finished as the national runners-up in each of the last two seasons, falling in the championship series to Oregon State in 2006 and in 2007.
The Tigers are participating in the College World Series for the 14th time in the past 23 seasons. LSU’s previous College World Series appearances came in 1986, 1987, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2003 and 2004. LSU, which claimed national championships in 1991, 1993, 1996, 1997 and 2000, has an all-time CWS record of 29-17 (.630).
LSU enters the College World Series having won 25 of its last 26 games.
The Tigers recorded a 23-game winning streak from April 22-June 1, the longest single-season streak in Southeastern Conference history. The streak was broken by an 11-5 loss to UC Irvine in Game 1 of the NCAA Super Regional; however, LSU rebounded to win the next two games over the Anteaters and earn a berth to the CWS.
Second-year LSU coach Paul Mainieri, who led Notre Dame to the 2002 CWS, said the Tigers are prepared to take on the Tar Heels on college baseball’s biggest stage.
“Omaha and Rosenblatt Stadium represent excellence in baseball,” Mainieri said, “and we are honored to be a part of the College World Series field. Our goal is to win the national championship, and I’m very proud of this team for earning the opportunity to win a title.
“We’ve tried to keep the guys loose since we’ve been here, and we’ve let them have some fun. None of our players have ever been in the College World Series, and I think they’ll play much better if they’re relaxed and ready to let it rip.”
Mainieri said junior left-hander Ryan Verdugo (9-3, 3.90 ERA), the ninth-round draft selection of the San Francisco Giants, will start Sunday’s game on the mound for LSU.
North Carolina coach Mike Fox will counter with sophomore right-hander Alex White (10-3, 2.75 ERA).
LSU sophomore outfielder/DH Blake Dean, a Baseball America first-team All-American, is hitting a sizzling .434 (46-for-106) during the LSU’s 25-1 run with 11 doubles, one triple, 12 homers and 38 RBI.
Junior first baseman Matt Clark is hitting .404 (36-for-89) during that span with 12 doubles, 13 homers and 32 RBI. Freshman shortstop DJ LeMahieu is hitting .366 (37-for-101) over the past 26 games with eight doubles, one triple, two homers and 17 RBI.
North Carolina is hitting .324 on the year with 56 home runs. Sophomore first baseman/outfielder Dustin Ackley is hitting .408 with 20 doubles, four triples, seven homers and 50 RBI.
Sophomore outfielder Tim Fedroff is batting .398 with 21 doubles, four triples, 12 homers and 69 RBI. Sophomore infielder Kyle Seager is hitting .355 on the year with team-highs of 27 doubles, five triples and 73 RBI to go along with nine homers.
The loser will play in an elimination round on Tuesday at 1 p.m.
Sunday, June 15 – 6 p.m. CT
Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha, Neb.
LSU is the NCAA Tournament No. 7 national seed. The Tigers are ranked No. 2 by Collegiate Baseball, No. 4 by Baseball America and No. 7 by USA Today/ESPN.
North Carolina is the No. 2 national seed. The Tar Heels are ranked No. 2 by USA Today/ESPN, No. 3 by Baseball America and No. 4 by Collegiate Baseball
- LSU Sports Radio Network affiliates
- The Baton Rouge affiliate is WDGL 98.1 FM
LSU leads, 2-0.
The Tigers defeated the Tar Heels, 8-5, at the 1990 ABCA Hall of Fame Tournament in Haines City, Fla., and LSU posted an 11-4 win over UNC at the 1997 Winn-Dixie Showdown in New Orleans (Louisiana Superdome).
PITCHING MATCHUP (Game 1)
LSU - Jr. LHP Ryan Verdugo (9-3, 3.90 ERA, 92.1 IP, 36 BB, 82 SO)
UNC - So. RHP Alex White (10-3, 2.75 ERA, 88.1 IP, 38 BB, 101 SO)