LSU will get another shot at Oregon State after Poche holds down FSU

OMAHA, Neb. — LSU is still alive in the College World Series.

But now comes the tough part.

Jared Poché pitched eight-plus dominant innings to become the school’s all-time wins leader Wednesday night as the Tigers’ beat Florida State 7-4. He immediately started thinking about padding his career total of 39 wins.

That would mean getting into next week’s championship round, which will require two victories over top-seeded Oregon State Friday and Saturday.

“We’re happy to have another shot at them,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri, who will have ace Alex Lange on the mound Friday. “It’s going to take our very best effort, but we’re looking forward to it.”

The Tigers (50-18) didn’t do much right in a 13-1 loss to Oregon State on Monday. Wednesday they didn’t do much wrong against Florida State (46-23).

“We had to play a really good game today,” Mainieri said. “And I thought we did.”

Particularly Poché, who held down one of the country’s most potent offenses for eight inning before needing help from the budding legend of Zach Hess to finish the ninth,

“Poché was just the man tonight,” Mainieri said. “He put the team on his shoulders and carried us to the promised land. We needed that.”

Poché got early support from a 5-run second inning — capped from an unlikely source —  and coasted through eight innings before giving up solo home runs on back-to-back pitches to open the ninth.

The Tigers added two more runs in the top of the ninth, which came in handy when Poché faltered.

He was replaced by Hess, who ended the game by striking out the sides in what’s quickly becoming tall-tale fashion around a two-out walk.

Mainieri said he actually preferred to pull Poché after a pair of home runs than singles —.just so Hess could come in with the bases empty.

“Zach could come in with nobody on base and let it rip, and, boy, was he letting it rip,” Mainieri said. “He was really something to see.

“Borderline psychotic,” shortstop Kramer Robertson said. “But that’s what you want in a guy to go out in the ninth inning. I don’t talk to him. I’ve tried to in the past … but I don’t say anything to him anymore. I let him do his thing.

“I think he hit 100 (mph) once.”

Not quite — though a couple were clocked at 97 and 98 as the Seminoles only fouled one ball off him while looking totally overmatched.

LSU took control in the second inning when Greg Deichmann led off with a double and scored after back to back singles by Zach Watson and Josh Smith.

“I thought Deichmann’s double in the second inning did it, loosened everybody up,” Mainieri said.

Beau Jordan got Watson home on a sacrifice bunt RBI and Michael Papierski reached on an error, setting the stage for … Jake Slaughter?

Slaughter, who has played sparingly since losing his starting job at midseason, didn’t even know he’d be in the lineup until arriving at the ball park.

“I was excited,” he said.

Evidently.

He capped the big inning with a towering 3-run homer to the leftfield power alley for an early 5-0 lead.

“What a moment for him,” said Mainieri, who also noted Slaughter had two defensive gems, one of which completed a double play to get Poché out of a rare jam.

“I guess you could call it a gut feeling,” Mainieri said of putting Slaughter in the lineup. “I liked the matchup of Jake against their starting pitcher.”

Slaughter’s bomb chased FSU starter Cole Sands, who was more the  power type pitcher that the freshman normally handles better.

Softer throwing Andrew Karp thwarted several LSU threats over the next five innings, but Poché was cruising.

“I won’t call it vintage Poché tonight,” Mainieri smiled of his senior’s usual mode of wiggling in and out of jams. “Poché was unbelievable. He was throwing a lot of first- pitch strikes. Got a lot of early counts.”

Poché also gave up a solo home run to Drew Mendoza in the second inning and the Seminoles got an unearned run on a sacrifice fly in the sixth.

Otherwise Poche mowed down the Seminoles.

“He just had that ‘it’ factor,” said Florida State’s Quincy Nieporte, who had the sacrifice fly and the first-inning home run. “There’s not a better lineup in the country than we are, and he was able to go out there and do his thing.”

LSU manufactured the first run in the ninth when Robertson led off with his first hit of the CWS, stole second and was sacrificed to third, then scored on a close play at the plate on Antoine Duplantis’ grounder to first.

The Tigers padded it with Zach Watson’s RBI double, his third hit of the night, to score Duplantis.

LSU won two times in an Omaha trip for the first time since the 2009 national championship season and the first time in three trips since TD Ameritrade Park opened in 2011.

Florida State (46-23) went home empty-handed from Omaha for the 22nd time in as many trips, the longest streak by any school never to the CWS championship.””

Left-hander Jared Poché draws the opening assignment for LSU today in the Baton Rouge Regional.

Associated Press

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