OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — LSU coach Paul Mainieri said his team wasn’t very sharp in its College World Series opener. It turned out the Tigers really didn’t need to be, not with the Florida State follies in the field.
The Tigers scored their first run Saturday night when Antoine Duplantis came around all the way from first on a third strike wild pitch, and they tied it in the eighth when the Seminoles committed three errors on the same play.
Greg Deichmann followed with the go-ahead single in a 5-4 victory, LSU’s 17th in a row.
“It was a little bit of a bizarre game,” Mainieri said. “I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a runner score from first base on a strikeout. I know you think we probably practice that play all the time, but we really don’t. I thought that our team didn’t really play that great, at least not up to our potential. Somehow we still found a way to win, which is really encouraging for us.”
Jared Poche’ (11-3) worked 2 2/3 shutout innings in a rare relief appearance and tied the LSU record with his 38th career win. Tyler Holton (10-3), who pitched a workmanlike 7 1/3 innings, took the loss.
“We made mistakes. We pay for them,” said Florida State coach Mike Martin, whose team is looking for its first national title in 22 appearances in Omaha. “We know it’s going to be a tough uphill battle. But I’ll tell you, and I mean this, I’ll take this bunch and go to battle.”
LSU (49-7) was down 4-3 when a bizarre sequence turned the game in the eighth. Cole Freeman reached on a base hit, and Duplantis singled past diving second baseman Matt Henderson.
The ball rolled past Steven Wells, and the right fielder was off-target with his throw trying to get Duplantis at second. Freeman headed for home, and third baseman Dylan Busby’s throw to catcher Cal Raleigh popped out of his glove as Freeman slid past. Wells was charged with two errors and Raleigh with one.
“That was a weird play,” Duplantis said. “I looked up, and things kept happening.”
Alec Byrd relieved Holton, and Deichmann singled through the right side against a pulled-in infield to bring home Duplantis for the lead.
The Seminoles (45-22) had runners on first and second in the ninth when Zack Hess ended the game with a strikeout of Busby.
Florida State got out to a quick 2-0 lead against starter Alex Lange, who labored in his six-plus innings. Lange walked Taylor Walls to start the game, and then Busby cleared the wall in dead center with his team-leading 15th homer of the season.
Lange, the Chicago Cubs’ first-round draft pick, had difficulty controlling his fastball, and the Seminoles had their leadoff man reach base in six of the first seven innings. Lange allowed seven hits, walked four and struck out eight before coming out when he hit 9-hole batter JC Flowers to start the seventh.
Poche’ came on and allowed two singles, then turned the game over to Hess with two outs in the ninth. Poche’ said he has no problem pitching in relief at this point in the season.
“We talked about it throughout the week,” he said. “I’ll be ready when the coach calls on me again.”
THAT’S A LONG ONE
Busby’s home run was only the second in TD Ameritrade Park’s seven seasons to clear the fence beneath the batter’s eye. Florida’s Peter Alonso is the other player to go deep to dead center, doing it against Virginia in the 2015 CWS. The FSU-LSU game was the 309th played at TD Ameritrade. Creighton also plays at the stadium.
RECORD ON-BASE STREAK
When he walked in the fifth inning, Walls broke the Florida State record by reaching base on 14 straight plate appearances. Paul Sorrento had reached base 13 straight times in 1985. Walls’ streak ended in the seventh when he grounded out.
Poche’, who entered the game having been a starter in 68 of his 70 career appearances, was available for relief after Mainieri decided Eric Walker would be the starter Monday.
Poche’ was a viable option for relief against a Florida State lineup that has four switch hitters who are better from the left side. The senior left-hander was effective in his previous relief appearance, throwing six innings of one-hit shutout ball in last year’s regional final against Rice.
LSU advanced to a Bracket 1 winners’ game against Oregon State on Monday night. The Seminoles will play an elimination game against Cal State Fullerton in the afternoon.