Tigers, Gators set to face off for title
OMAHA — Nothing Louisiana State encounters in the College World Series championship series will be any more daunting than the task the Tigers had to complete to get there.
The Tigers had to beat an Oregon State team that owned the most formidable record of any team in four decades, and they had to do it twice.
They did in dominating fashion.
Caleb Gilbert held the No. 1 national seed Beavers to two hits in 71⁄3 innings, Michael Papierski homered from both sides of the plate and LSU won 6-1 on Saturday a day after beating them 3-1.
“To lose four games the entire season, and we beat them two days in a row, it’s hard to predict those things to happen, but that’s why you have to play the games,” Tigers coach Paul Mainieri said. “Our kids embraced the challenge.”
The Tigers (52-18) won their third straight elimination game and will play Florida in the best-of-three finals beginning Monday.
The Beavers (56-6) had a pair of 23-game winning streaks and finished the season with a .903 winning percentage — the best since Texas’ mark of .908 in 1982.
“It’s a tough day when you’ve had such a great year,” Beavers coach Pat Casey said. “Now is not the time to really think about that or talk about it, but I know there will be a time when they get to sit back and reflect and realize what they accomplished.”
Gilbert allowed an infield single and walk before Michael Gretler homered in the seventh. He struck out a career-high seven in his longest outing in his two seasons at LSU. Zack Hess allowed one hit the rest of the way.
“It’s a surreal feeling to be able to pitch your team, when the back’s against the wall in an elimination game, into the College World Series final,” Gilbert said. “I just had all the faith in the world in my teammates and my coaching staff and just really went out there and pitched my game, tried to attack early with a heater and get ahead and trust my defense behind me.”
Florida 3, Texas Christian 0: Alex Faedo pitched three-hit ball for 71⁄3 shutout innings in a second straight strong performance against TCU, and Florida (50-19) moved on to the College World Series finals.
Faedo (9-2) struck out 11, just as he did last Sunday in a 3-0 win over TCU.
The Gators had struggled on offense since they arrived in Omaha, but with Faedo holding down the Horned Frogs they were able to muster enough against Jared Janczak (9-2).
MICHAEL PAPIERSKI of Louisiana State belts a three-run homer during the third inning Saturday.