After a pair of thrilling rallies and crazy games, favored #1 Oregon State and #4 LSU emerged victorious with one-run victories. Boasting the two longest active winning streaks in the nation, the Beavers (22 games) and the Tigers (17 games) will put their streak on the line in a winner’s bracket duel on Monday. Their Saturday victims, the Cal State Fullerton Titans and the Florida State Seminoles, will battle to avoid elimination.
Oregon State 6 Cal State Fullerton 5
Despite needing a rally, the Beavers (55-4) moved into the winner’s bracket as expected, knocking off unseeded Cal State Fullerton. The Titans jumped to a 5-1 lead, but the Beavers slapped four runs on the board in the sixth and tacked the winning tally on in the eighth to slip past the feisty Titans. Jack Anderson had three hits for the Beavers, while Nick Madrigal and Trevor Larnach added a pair of base knocks themselves. The Titans only had three hits all day, but Timmy Richards racked up 3 RBI and Chris Hudgins added the other two. On the mound, the two squads received completely opposite performances. Fullerton starter Connor Seabold gave the Titans five innings of one-run ball, but their bullpen was dinged for five runs in three innings. Beavers’ starter Jake Thompson was shellacked, giving up five runs in 3 ⅔ innings, but Jake Mulholland earned the win with 4 ⅓ innings of hitless, shutout ball, while Drew Rasmussen shut the door with a perfect ninth inning.
The Titans put up a three-spot in the first inning, immediately putting the #1 team in the nation in a big hole. A walk and hit batsmen – uncharacteristic wildness from Thompson – set up Richards’ booming home run to center field. The Beavers got one back in the second after a leadoff double from Michael Gretler, who came around to score on a fielder’s choice.
Thompson was knocked out of the game in the fourth inning with two outs; a single and walk sandwiched by two groundouts put runners on second and third for Hudgins, who ended Thompson’s day with a two-run single. It was the last hit the Titans would muster.
After being stymied by Seabold for five innings, the Beavers pounced on Cal State Fullerton’s bullpen in the sixth inning to tie the game. Three walks opened the inning, followed by a sacrifice fly and another walk. Already having pushed one run across, Oregon State added another pair on Larnach’s two-run ground-ball single up the middle. Anderson tied the game with another RBI single, knotting the score at five runs apiece.
Two-out magic did the trick for the Beavers in the eighth inning, as Larnach singled, and Anderson was plunked, setting the stage for Adley Rutschman to break the tie with the game-winning single. Rasmussen needed just a dozen pitches to record a pair of strikeouts and set down the side in order to preserve the victory.
LSU 5 Florida State 4
In other game involving an exciting rally, LSU scored twice in the bottom of the eighth inning to squeak past the Seminoles 5-4. Florida State, without a national championship in their storied history, had leads of 2-0, 3-1, and 4-2, but they couldn’t hold on against the gritty Tigers, who squirmed their way into the winner’s bracket. Antoine Duplantis, Nick Coomes, and Michael Papierski recorded two hits each for the Tigers, while Dylan Busby and Matt Henderson did likewise for the Seminoles. Ace Alex Lange was mediocre at best, giving up four runs in six innings for LSU, but the strong bullpen combination of Jared Poche and Zach Hess kept the Seminoles scoreless the rest of the way. Tyler Holton gave up just three earned runs over 7 ⅓ innings, but shoddy defense behind him added on a pair of unearned tallies that muddied his final line.
Busby got the Seminoles off on the right track as he hit a monster two-run blast in the first inning, following a leadoff walk from Taylor Walls, who received three free passes. LSU did not record a hit in their half of the inning, but they still managed to halve the deficit. Duplantis worked a two-out walk and took off for second on an 0-2 pitch to the ensuing batter. Despite a swing and miss, the ball bounced wildly, allowing Greg Deichmann to reach first base. Meanwhile, Duplantis cruised into third and kept going when the ball was bobbled by the catcher and nobody covered home plate.
Both teams scored once in the third inning, with Florida State again using Busby as a sparkplug. After Walls doubled, Busby singled him in, restoring Florida State’s two-run advantage. Duplantis matched Busby with a RBI single of his own in the bottom half of the inning, again cutting the Florida State advantage to one run. Both teams added single tallies in the fifth inning, as Walls, having walked again, came around to score on a single off the bat of Quincy Nieporte. LSU answered with a solo blast from Papierski.
Papierski’s shot ended the scoring excitement until the eighth inning. Not a week after scoring four times in the eighth to win Game 1 of their Super Regional 4-3, LSU rallied late once more, with help from a leaky Florida State defense. With one on and one out, Duplantis singled to right, and the ball rolled under the glove of the right fielder for the first of three errors on the play. Duplantis advanced to second and continued to third, on a wild throw by the right fielder that was eventually relayed to the catcher who dropped it in a crazy play that tied the score for the Tigers. Deichmann followed the crazy play with a much more traditional RBI single to give LSU the lead. Poche, having been lights out in relief, let the tying run reach second base before giving way to Hess. Hess walked a man but froze Busby with strike three to end the game.