LSU baseball (37-25), after improbably finishing second in the SEC tournament, travels to Corvallis, Oregon, to open the regional round of the NCAA tournament against San Diego State on Friday (6/1) at 3 p.m. This weekend marks the first time LSU baseball will play a regional on the road since 2010.
The Tigers will send sophomore Nick Bush to the mound on Friday, and ace Zack Hess will pitch Saturday.
After a regular season marred with injuries and constant lineup changes, the team hit its groove in the SEC tournament, defeating two top-5 teams in the nation in Florida and Arkansas before falling in the Finals to no.4 Ole Miss.
Their road to Omaha begins in Corvallis as the Tigers try to fend off San Diego State, Oregon State, and Northwestern State.
Entering the Corvallis regional ranked third in the nation, the Oregon State Beavers (44-10-1) have been waiting a long time for this weekend.
In last year’s semifinal round of the College World Series, all the Beavers needed was one win over the Tigers in the best-of-three series to advance to the championship round. They did not deliver, however, as LSU won games two and three 3-1 and 6-1, respectively, to hand Oregon State only their fourth and fifth losses of the season and topple the best team in the nation.
Now almost a year later, the Beavers and Tigers are on a collision course, and Oregon State is overwhelming favorites to advance to the next round. They hope to have a chance to exact revenge on the Tigers in their home stadium.
2018 Oregon State baseball returns five pitchers and eight of 2017’s nine starters, including two highly-touted Major League prospects: SS Nick Madrigal and OF Trevor Larnach. Madrigal is a projected top-three selection in June’s draft, and Larnach is forecasted to be picked in the first round. Both are dangerous swingers.
San Diego State
Though everyone is looking ahead to a potential rematch, LSU head coach Paul Mainieri’s focus, however, is on the Tigers’ first-round opponent: “Honestly, I’m not even thinking about Oregon State right now. I’m just thinking about having a good game against San Diego State,” he told The Times-Picayune.
Mainieri is wise not to take the Aztecs for granted, for the team is 39-19, fresh off its fifth Mountain West title in the last six years.
Right-hander Jorge Fernandez (6-3, 4.65 ERA) will take the mound on Friday afternoon against LSU. Even though he has struggled in his last three starts, allowing 13 runs in 13 innings, Aztec pitchers have a collective 3.88 ERA this season, a tally best in its conference.
The only other Louisiana team in the NCAA tournament’s field of 64, the Demons (37-22) recently won their first Southland Conference Tournament and head into their matchup against Oregon State on a five-game winning streak.
Photo provided by LSU Baseball's Official Facebook Page