OMAHA, Neb. – Game 2 was eerily similar to Game 1 at the 2017 College World Series.
Fourth-seeded LSU fell behind early to Florida State and took advantage of mistakes in the bottom of the eighth to rally for a 5-4 win Saturday evening in front of a sellout crowd of 25,305 fans at TD Ameritrade Park.
The Tigers (49-17) extended their win streak to 17 games and will face top-seeded Oregon State on Monday at 6 p.m. CT in a winners’ bracket contest. The Seminoles (45-22) will meet Cal State Fullerton at 1 p.m. CT on Monday in an elimination game.
“We took advantage of a couple of missed plays by them,” said LSU head coach Paul Mainieri, “and it was a little bit of a bizarre game. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a runner score from first base on a strikeout. I thought that our team didn’t really play that great, at least not up to our potential. And yet somehow we still found a way to win, which is really encouraging for us.”
LSU trailed 4-3 in the eighth. With one away, Cole Freeman singled off the pitcher’s glove. Antoine Duplantis singled to right, with Freeman going to second. Right fielder Steven Wells overran the ball, allowing Freeman to go to third. Wells made an errant throw to second and Freeman came around to score. The catcher mishandled the throw to the plate, allowing Duplantis to move to third.
“I thought right off the bat when I hit it to right field,”, Duplantis said, “I thought Cole could have gone first to third right from the get-go. But I guess he decided he couldn’t have made it. So luckily he bobbled the ball and made it to third. That was kind of a weird play. I just kept looking up, things kept happening and I just kept running.”
Greg Deichmann laced a single to right against a drawn-in infield, plating Duplantis with the go-ahead run.
“It’s a great feeling anytime you get the go-ahead run,” Deichmann said. “Coach has always talked to me, ever since I stepped on the campus, and to the team about you’re going to come up in unique situations and one-run games is how you’re going to define your season. I had to wipe the first three at-bats clean and focus on getting the job done.”
Reliever Jared Poche’ (pictured) returned to the mound in the top of the ninth and Matt Henderson promptly singled to left. Poche’ fanned a pair of pinch-hitters and a wild pitch pushed Henderson to second. Zack Hess took over for Poche’ and walked leadoff hitter Taylor Walls to put the go-ahead run on base. Hess struck out Dylan Busby looking to end the contest and record his second save.
“A heck of a baseball game,” said Mike Martin, FSU head coach. “It was obviously one that you’ve got to tip your hat to LSU. They took advantage of every opportunity that they had and took the game to us. Sometimes you just have to admit the fact that the other club did a very, very good job.”
Poche’ (11-3) worked 2.2 scoreless innings with two hits and two strikeouts. He tied the program record for career wins with 38, matching the total of Scott Schultz (1992-95).
“It’s unbelievable,” Poche’ said. “With all the great pitchers that have come through LSU, for me to tie that record and put my name at the top of the list, it’s something that’s hard to describe. Obviously been thinking about it all year and been hoping that it would happen the last two weeks. Definitely didn’t think it was going to happen with me coming out of the bullpen. But I think it made it a little more exciting.”
Poche’ could have tied the record with a regional start vs. Texas Southern and a super regional start against Mississippi State.
“There’s been a lot more talented pitchers to come through the LSU baseball program than Jared Poché,” Mainieri said. “He’s not going to flash a 94 or 95 or that snapping curveball or phenomenal change up, he’s just a winner.”
FSU started the scoring quickly in the first as Walls walked and Busby belted a 421′ homer to center to give the Seminoles a 2-0 lead. It was the 15th dinger of the season for Busby.
“Slider away, took it,” Busby said. “Just trying to calm it down. Slow the game down.”
The Tigers answered in the bottom of the frame as Duplantis drew a two-out walk. He was running on an 0-2 pitch when Deichmann struck out on a check swing on a pitch in the dirt. The ball kicked away and the catcher could not make the throw to first. Duplantis did not stop running and scored as no one covered home, making it 2-1.
Walls doubled and scored on a Busby base hit in the third to give the Seminoles a 3-1 advantage. Freeman reached on a fielder’s choice in the bottom of the frame, stole second and scored on a single by Duplantis as LSU narrowed the deficit to 3-2.
In the fifth, Walls drew a leadoff walk and set an FSU record by reaching base in 14 straight plate appearances. He scored on a base hit by Quincy Nieporte to give the Noles a 4-2 edge. Michael Papierski homered to left in the bottom of the fifth, his ninth, to narrow the deficit to 4-3.
Tyler Holton (10-3, 7.1 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 5 K) suffered the loss.
“I’m going to be the first one to tell you I didn’t have my best game,” Holton said. “And they were doing a really good job of taking advantage of mistake pitches. I was leaving a lot of stuff up and couldn’t really get in the rhythm. A really good offensive team. They took advantage of mistake pitches. And just tough to win games like that.”