Someone Will Have to Be Really Good to Beat LSU – From the Bird’s Nest
Are you surprised the LSU Tigers are headed to Omaha?
I've said since mid-season I thought this might be LSU's best team ever. A better way to say it would be the "most complete" team the Tigers have had.
When you have six national championships to your credit, that's a mouthful. But, after watching the Tigers against Oklahoma over the weekend, I'm more convinced than ever.
Friday night's game featured a pitchers' duel for the ages in college baseball. Aaron Nola, the SEC Pitcher of the Year hooked up with Oklahoma's Jonathan Gray, the third overall pick in the just-concluded MLB Draft. There were many, myself included, who said only half jokingly "first one to score wins."
And, that's exactly what happened.
Gray and Nola matched each other through seven innings. Nothing but goose eggs on the board. The game was scoreless going into the bottom of the eighth. It may have looked to be dead even, and on the scoreboard it was. But the Tigers had gotten enough baserunners and worked the count enough to get Gray's pitch count up to 111 entering the bottom of the eighth. Gray got Ty Ross to start the inning, but made a mistake to JaCoby Jones on an 0-2 pitch and Jones made him pay with a triple. Pinch hitter Tyler Moore delivered Jones with a double and that was all Nola needed, although a Mark Laird single off reliever Ralph Garza got the Tigers an insurance run.
Nola was simply magnificent. His ability to throw three pitches with pinpoint control makes him one of America's best pitchers. And, when he does that, he's pretty much unbeatable.
I said on Friday's "Bird's Eye View" that Oklahoma's only hope was to win game one. And, when they did not, it was a mere formality that a celebration would be held at Alex Box Stadium.
LSU has the deep pitching staff necessary to win in Omaha. They have starters who can get deep into the game. Their defense is impeccable. And, while they don't tear the cover off the ball, they hit well and hit in the clutch. With that staff, you just have to hit better than the other guys. And, LSU does that.
Anything can happen in a Super Regional (hello, Vandy, hello?). And, anything can happen in Omaha. Nothing is for certain. Teams have to go out and perform.
And, as they head back to the College World Series, LSU is performing better than anyone in the country.