LSU ready to make 17th appearance in Omaha

Kyle Riviere
kriviere@weeklycitizen.com
LSU will head into the World Series as the No. 2 seed and open action against No. 7 TCU. Photo by RaeLynn Roussel.

The Tigers are going back to their second home.

After sweeping state rival UL-Lafayette in the Baton Rouge Super Regional, LSU punched their ticket to the College World Series in Omaha for the 17th time in the program's history.

Their run was made all the more memorable by the exhilarating finish to Saturday night's game one.

The Tigers looked well on their way to an easy victory as they raced out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the sixth, but UL-Lafayette fought their way back into the game.

They scored runs in the bottom of the sixth and in the eighth to tie the contest at 3-3. The teams remained deadlocked until the bottom of the ninth.

With one out, Chris Sciambra stepped to the plate and came through with a moment that will forever go down in Tiger baseball lore. Sciambra drilled a solo shot into leftfield that cleared the fence and gave LSU the 4-3 walkoff victory.

The home run became only the third walkoff blast the Tigers have ever produced in an NCAA Tournament game.

The other two were Warren Morris' epic two-run bomb against Miami in the 1996 title game and Jon Zeringue's solo shot in the 11th inning against UNC Wilmington in the championship of the 2003 Baton Rouge Regional.

It was only the eighth walkoff victory the Tigers have ever tasted in NCAA Tournament play overall.

With the 1-0 series lead, LSU came back down to Earth on Sunday night and closed things out with an easy 6-3 win.

With the score only 1-0 after seven, the Tigers exploded for four in the eighth and one more in the ninth to run out to a 6-1 lead.

UL-Lafayette scored two in the bottom of the ninth, but the deficit was too large to overcome. LSU held firm and locked away the 6-3 victory to earn their first trip to Omaha in two years.

Jared Poche' was once again a huge force for the Tigers on the mound as he earned another NCAA Tournament victory. Against the Cajuns, he only allowed one run on five hits, and he struck out seven.

This followed a 2-0 shutout win in his outing against UNC Wilmington in the regional. His record is now 9-1 for the season.

The Tigers will head to Omaha as the nation's No. 2 seed with a 53-10 record.

They'll be looking to perform much better than they did in their last trip two years ago. It was there that LSU was eliminated after just two games despite being one of the favorites to win the national crown heading into the tournament.

The Tigers will be a tough matchup for anyone in Omaha with the way they swing the bats. During the year, all but one of their starters finished with at least a .308 batting average. They hit .316 as a team overall.

Their only hitter to fall under the .308 mark was Jared Foster, and he still finished with a solid .284 average with 34 RBIs and nine home runs.

Junior shortstop Alex Bregman was recently drafted second overall by the Houston Astros in the MLB Draft. He'll be looking to make a big splash in Omaha after he struggled there during his freshman year.

Bregman also fell into a 0-15 slump in the tournament prior to getting a big hit in the Tigers' series-clinching win over UL-Lafayette.

When it comes to pitching, the Tigers will be leaning heavily on their two top pitchers Alex Lange and Poche'. The two have combined for a 20-1 record with Lange bolstering an impressive 1.89 ERA.

Also making the trip to Omaha will be true freshman and former Dutchtown standout Austin Bain.

Bain made 20 mound appearances this season--including six starts.

He ended up going 2-2 overall with 55 strikeouts and a 3.54 ERA.

With East Ascension's Bailey Landry helping lead the LSU softball team to the Women's College World Series, Bain will be the second Ascension product to lead their team to the World Series in search of a national title.

The Tigers will open play on Saturday evening against seventh-seeded TCU.