We know all about Oregon State by now. The winning streaks. The nearly impossible feat of getting this far into a baseball season with just four losses. But what about today's opponent, the LSU Tigers? Here is a quick look at what they'll bring to today's battle of 1-0 College World Series teams:
- The Tigers will start freshman right-hander Eric Walker (8-1, 3.46 ERA, 93.2 IP, 78 K, 23 BB) on the mound. Walker did not pitch in the Super Regionals but won big games in the team's conference tournament and regional. He's much like OSU starter Bryce Fehmel in that he's not overpowering. He changes speeds and keeps hitters off balance. He apparently has overcome some arm "tightness" that kept him out of the Super Regionals. Alex Lange, the LSU ace who was drafted in the first round last week, pitched the team's opening game of the CWS.
- LSU has a terrific bullpen, featuring setup man Zach Hess, a hard thrower who has allowed only one earned run over his last nine appearances, and closer Hunter Newman.
- The Beavers have a 22-game win streak but the Tigers bring a win streak of their own into this game -- 17 games, during which they've averaged more than eight runs a game and allowed fewer than three earned runs per game. LSU has come from behind to win five of its six postseason games. There is little question that these are the two hottest teams in the country.
- The Tigers have plenty of speed and like to pressure the defense into mistakes with it. That will be interesting, because the Beaver defense has survived all attempts to do that. Running foolishly against Oregon State can be a futile pursuit.
- The team that wins this game has a HUGE advantage in getting to the championship round of this tournament. It will not play again until Friday -- a chance for the entire pitching staff to get fully rested -- and a win Friday would wrap up a berth in the best-of-three championship round. The team that loses today's game must win three straight games to get to the title round.
- Beaver Coach Pat Casey had this to say about the Tigers: “(LSU is) just so athletic, I mean, it’s unbelievable the guys that they’re running out there. Then you run arms out there. (Zack Hess) came in there last night … and he was 94, 95 (mph fastball) with an 85 mph slider. I don’t know if there’s a more talented team in the World Series.”
- It would be expected that the first man out of the bullpen for the Beavers would be Drew Rasmussen, who threw an inning in Saturday's win over Cal-Fullerton. If the Beavers can pick up a win over LSU, No. 1 starter Jake Thompson would be fully rested for the Friday game.