lWHAT’S AT STAKE: The second game between a bracket’s two undefeated teams is called the “marble game” as the key to the bracket. But LSU has never reached the national championship game or or championship series after losing its CWS opener. It’s Mainieri’s sixth trip to the CWS (one with Notre Dame, five with LSU). In the previous five, he’s only won his opening game one time. “That was 2009,” he remembered Friday — the last year the Tigers won the national championship.
l WHO’S HOT: Both teams. LSU has won 16 consecutive games and 21 of its last 23 games. Florida State has won 18 of its last 21. They’re both playing their best baseball of the season.
l LSU GAME KEY: Throw strikes. The Seminoles lead the nation in walks drawn with 380 (LSU led the SEC — with only 273). FSU is more home run oriented than the Tigers so the huge ballpark could favor the Tigers’ style of play. But not if the Seminoles are routinely getting free base runners. When LSU starter Alex Lange has struggled, it’s usually been early in game when he struggles with command. The Tigers probably can’t afford that today. Head coach Paul Mainieri thinks the home plate umpire could be a key. “How’s he going to call it?” Mainieri said. “I think it’s a better game for both teams if they call strikes.”
l WHAT’S NEXT: The winner advances to that “marble” game against the winner of today’s earlier Oregon State-Cal State Fullerton game on Monday night. The loser will face elimination and an early trip against the loser, also on Monday.