LSU beats Oregon State 6-1 to reach CWS finals
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Caleb Gilbert held No. 1 national seed Oregon State to two hits in 7 1/3 innings, Michael Papierski homered from both sides of the plate and LSU beat the Beavers 6-1 on Saturday to reach the College World Series finals.
The Tigers (52-18) won their third straight elimination game, including back-to-back victories over Oregon State. The Beavers (56-6) had a pair of 23-game winning streaks and finished the season with a .903 winning percentage — the best since Texas' mark of .908 in 1982.
The Tigers beat the Beavers 3-1 on Friday to force the second game.
Gilbert allowed an infield single and walk before Michael Gretler homered in the seventh. He struck out a career-high seven in his longest outing in his two seasons at LSU. Zack Hess allowed one hit the rest of the way.
Papierski became the first player to homer twice in a CWS game since TCU's Bryan Holaday in 2010. He went deep from the left side off Bryce Fehmel in the second and the right side off Brandon Eisert in the fourth.
The Beavers managed only a season-low two hits on Friday and the three against Gilbert and Hess on Saturday. They went the first 17 innings Friday and Saturday without having a leadoff batter reach base.
Before Saturday, Oregon State hadn't lost consecutive games since a five-game losing streak from May 6-13, 2016, and hadn't been shut out since April 30, 2016.
Fourth-seeded LSU bounced back from a 13-1 loss to Oregon State on Monday and reached the championship round for the first time since winning the national title in 2009. The Tigers will open the best-of-three finals Monday against the winner of the Florida-TCU game Saturday night.
Fehmel was a surprise starter for the Beavers. Coach Pat Casey said Friday that the plan was to throw Drew Rasmussen, but he and his staff changed their minds because Fehmel was effective against LSU on Monday and they wanted Rasmussen available for relief. Fehmel was coming off four days' rest since holding LSU to one run and two hits over eight innings in the Beavers' 12-run win. Fehmel got knocked out of the game Saturday with one out in the third and down 4-0.
The Beavers had made up a four-run deficit in a 6-5 win over Cal State Fullerton last Saturday, but Gilbert and Hess made that a nearly impossible task.
Papierski opened the scoring with his three-run drive into the right-field seats, and he made it 5-0 in the fourth when he homered to left.
Beau Jordan homered in the sixth off Rasmussen to make it 6-0.
Oregon State's postseason was tainted by the revelation that Pac-12 pitcher of the year Luke Heimlich had pleaded guilty to molesting a 6-year-old female relative when he was a teenager. Heimlich didn't pitch in super regionals, and he didn't accompany the team to Omaha because he said he didn't want to be a distraction.
Details about the molestation came to light June 8 in a story published by The Oregonian/OregonLive. In an editorial accompanying the article, the newspaper said it learned about Heimlich's 2012 conviction in Washington state after running a background check that it routinely does for in-depth profiles.
Fehmel, who took time off in May after he struggled the first half of the season, made his third postseason start since the rotation was adjusted to account for the loss of Heimlich.
NO. 1 SEED GOES OUT AGAIN
This marks the 18th year in a row that the No. 1 national seed won't win the championship. Miami in 1999 is the only No. 1 seed to go all the way. That was the first year of the current tournament format. With No. 3 Florida, No. 4 LSU and No. 6 TCU the remaining teams, this will be the first year since 2011 that a national seed will win the CWS.