The LSU Tigers forced a winner-take-all game against the Oregon State Beavers on Saturday afternoon. The Tigers jumped on Jake Thompson early and rode star pitcher Alex Lange the rest of the way to pull out a tough 3-1 victory. It was only the second time that Oregon State has been tested since the playoffs started and represented quite the turn of events from the first two meetings between these teams. On Monday, Oregon State hammered LSU 13-1 to send the Tigers into the Elimination Bracket.
This game will take place at 3 p.m. ET on Saturday, June 24, 2017. It will be broadcast on ESPN.
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The last time these teams met, Bryce Fehmel pitched a gem but it doesn’t sound like he will get the start.
Instead, the Beavers are going to roll the dice with Drew Rasmussen, a sophomore who has seen scant action this season. Rasmussen only started throwing again in late April after undergoing Tommy John surgery and Oregon State has been careful with his innings.
When he has taken the mound, Rasmussen has been electric. In 22.2 innings of action, he has 24 strikeouts and has only allowed two earned runs. However, he is still recovering and has not shown the ability to go late into games.
Rasmussen’s longest outing all season was six innings of work against Abilene Christian in the regional that Oregon State hosted.
Eric Walker got the start for LSU when it faced Oregon State before, but Walker left early with soreness in his arm and will not be pitching here. Caleb Gilbert will get the ball in his wake.
Gilbert started just four games on the season and was used mostly in relief, throwing into doubt his ability to go deep into games. When he was on the mound, he was fantastic for LSU though.
In 51 innings of action, he struck out 60 batters and walked just 11. That led to a WHIP under one and it’s no surprise that he had a 6-1 record with a mark like that.
Gilbert will need to last at least five innings in this one. LSU is taxed without Walker to rely on and can’t afford to go to the bullpen too early. If he gets in trouble, the Tigers are toast.
Hitters to Watch
Zach Watson was the hero for LSU on Friday afternoon. Watson made it on base in each one of his four plate appearances and was responsible for a third of LSU’s total number of baserunners. That was a change since he is usually known much more for his power than his ability to get on base.
Greg Deichmann has been the most important bat for the Tigers all season and got the ball rolling for LSU in the second. He hit a leadoff double that eventually led to a two-run inning and gave LSU a lead it didn’t let go of. He is the team’s power hitter, but has struggled to make contact in Omaha.
Oregon State managed just two hits against LSU yesterday and hitters three through seven all had at least two strikeouts. It was the worst performance all season from an offense that prides itself so much for its success at the plate.
College World Series ATS Pick
Oregon State fans will lament about what could have been yesterday. A Steven Kwan hit that would have brought at least one run in was ruled incorrectly foul by the umpires. A correct call could have changed the outcome of the game and might have led to a big inning from the Beavers, but the crew decided not to review it.
The Beavers are the more polished team and are the choice to win this do-or-die game and make the College World Series finals. Their deep bullpen will lead the way provided they get any sort of lead and prove to be too much for LSU.
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