Now that the 2017 College World Series is underway, Monday's doubleheader will be the first time in which one team gets sent home from Omaha.
Cal State Fullerton and Florida State will get things started in the afternoon from TD Ameritrade Park in the tournament's first elimination game. The Titans are in this position after blowing a four-run lead in a 6-5 loss against Oregon State on Saturday.
The Seminoles understand Cal State Fullerton's pain after LSU scored two runs in the bottom of the eighth inning for a 5-4 win in the opener for both teams last night.
Oregon State and LSU arrived in Omaha as two of the top four seeds in the nation, so it's only fitting both programs would play at some point, even if it is an early matchup.
CWS Schedule (Monday, June 19)
Game 5: Cal State Fullerton vs. Florida State, 2 p.m. ET
Game 6: Oregon State vs. LSU, 7 p.m. ET
Cal State Fullerton vs. Florida State
Cal State Fullerton does have a full day off to recuperate following its bullpen implosion against Oregon State. Colton Eastman relieved starter Connor Seabold and proceeded to allow four runs on four walks with no hits allowed in 0.2 innings.
Eastman entered the College World Series with a 2.24 ERA in 100.2 innings this season and no walks in his previous 15 innings pitched.
While that defeat does sting, Cal State Fullerton should feel confident heading into this elimination game because it went toe-to-toe with the best team in the nation and was undone by one bad inning.
D1Baseball.com's Aaron Fitt did note Cal State Fullerton's entire pitching staff has succeeded based on its ability to limit free passes:
"Cal State Fullerton fell out of character after building that 5-1 lead. The Titans’ entire identity on the mound is built upon its rare strike-throwing process (they rank fourth in the nation with just 2.41 walks per nine innings). But the walks killed them Saturday, in conjunction with their own jumpiness at the plate in the second half of the game. The rhythm of the game told the story."
The Titans have shown the ability to bounce back from adversity in the NCAA tournament already, winning the final two games against Long Beach State after a 3-0 loss in the super regionals to reach the College World Series.
Florida State started its NCAA tournament run with a loss to Tennessee Tech before winning its next six games.
While Cal State Fullerton shouldn't be too down on itself for losing to the best team in the nation, Florida State was undone by its biggest flaw against LSU, committing three errors on a single play in the bottom of the eighth inning that allowed the tying run to score.
The Seminoles finished the regular season ranked 114th with a .971 fielding percentage and also committed 72 errors in 66 games, per NCAA.com.
In big games that garner national attention, everything is going to be put under a microscope. A team that struggles to catch the ball consistently is a difficult one to bet on at this stage of the tournament.
Cal State Fullerton 5, Florida State 3
Oregon State vs. LSU
There has been no stopping Oregon State on its quest for a national championship. The top seed in the NCAA tournament has a 55-4 overall record and has managed two of the nation's longest win streaks this season, per Rob Anderson, Creighton sports information director:
Rob Anderson @_robanderson
Oregon State now owns the longest (23) and second-longest (21) win streaks in college baseball this season. Pretty incredible. #CWS2017-6-11 04:15:13
During that critical sixth inning against Cal State Fullerton on Saturday, the Beavers got Easton to throw 42 pitches as he recorded two outs. They recorded those four runs on just two singles against Blake Workman.
Everything Oregon State is doing this season has worked. The offense has scored at least six runs in six straight games, while the pitching staff hadn't given up more than two runs in a game prior to Saturday since May 26.
Oregon State's success makes it easy to overlook what LSU has accomplished this season. The Tigers are currently riding their own 16-game winning streak heading into Monday's game.
LSU coach Paul Mainieri said after his team's win over Florida State he was happy with how things set up, per D1Baseball.com's Kendall Rogers:
Kendall Rogers @KendallRogersD1
Paul Mainieri said he was kind of glad that Oregon State won earlier today — says it sets up a great matchup. I agree — that’ll be fun.2017-6-18 04:09:18
If the Tigers are going to win a national title, they have to measure themselves against the best teams in the nation. No one has been better in 2017 than Oregon State.
While it will be a tall task for LSU, the good news is it doesn't have to panic if things don't work out this time since it is a double-elimination format.
Based on how Oregon State is playing right now, with no one being able to hold the Beavers down for nine innings in nearly two months, it would be foolish to bet against the Pac-12 champions until a team proves itself capable of pulling off the upset.
Oregon State 6, LSU 3