OMAHA, Neb. — LSU used more eighth-inning magic to beat Florida State 5-4 in a College World Series opener Saturday at TD Ameritrade Park.
One week after the Tigers rallied for four runs in the eighth inning of a Super Regional opener against Mississippi State, the Tigers scored two unearned runs to move ahead of the Seminoles.
Cole Freeman scored the tying run on a play that included three errors — two by right fielder Steven Wells and one by catcher Cal Raliegh — and Greg Deichmann followed with a run-scoring single with one out.
Jared Poche came on in relief of Alex Lange in the seventh inning and earned the win that tied him with Scott Schultz for most in school history. Zack Hess came in for the final out.
Next for LSU will be a winners’ bracket game against top-ranked Oregon State at 6 p.m. Monday.
Going deep to start
All Zach Watson could do was look up.
With a runner on first, Florida State’s Dylan Busby drove a two-run homer to the deepest part of the park just to the left of the 408 sign in straightaway center.
That was the third home run hit to that part of the park since the 2011 opening of TD Ameritrade Park, according to the NCAA. Watson drifted back to the wall but could not make a play on the ball as it cleared the fence for Florida State to lead 2-0.
That extended Alex Lange’s first-inning struggles for another game, as he allowed five first-inning runs over his last five starts.
Alex Lange’s first innings stats combined in last five starts including FSU — 5 R, 5 H (3 HR, 1 2b, 1 1b), 5 Ks, 3 BB
— Ron Higgins (@RonHigg) June 18, 2017
Scoring from first
As the ball rolled to the backstop, Antoine Duplantis never stopped running.
Duplantis took off for second as a two-out, third-strike wild pitch with Greg Deichmann batting in the first bounced to the backstop to start a chain of events that let Duplantis score all the way from first on the play.
Florida State catcher Cal Raleigh went to retrieve the ball near the backstop but fumbled the pick-up as he looked toward first. With nobody covering home, Duplantis rounded third and easily scored LSU’s first run.
Antoine Duplantis steals second… and then just keeps running and running!!
Florida State 2, LSU 1 – End 1 pic.twitter.com/cO5kt4TWS0
— NCAA Baseball (@NCAACWS) June 18, 2017
Good for starters
Taylor Walls reached base better than anybody on either team.
The Florida State leadoff hitter walked twice and doubled once in his first three plate appearances — and he scored each time. His ability to get on base keyed the Seminole efforts against Lange.
He scored twice on hits by Busby — first after a walk to start the game and then after a double in the third — and once on a single by cleanup hitter Quincy Nieporte.
The fifth-inning walk extended Walls school-record streak of 14 consecutive plate appearances.
Papierski goes deep
Michael Papierski knew what was coming.
The LSU catcher ripped a first-pitch fastball to the second row of the bleachers behind the LSU bullpen in left field. That solo shot started the bottom of the fifth and trimmed the Florida State lead back to one — at 4-3.
The home run put him alone in second place on the team with nine.
WHOA… This ball was CRUSHED!
— NCAA Baseball (@NCAACWS) June 18, 2017
Doubling them up — again and again
Josh Smith placed the tag, looked to the umpire and pumped his fist.
LSU turned an inning-ending double play in a third consecutive inning to end the seventh — this one on a 5-3-5 play that included a throw from Smith to first baseman Nick Coomes to get the batter, and then a throw back to Smith to get the J.C. Flowers as he tried to advance another base.
Those double plays helped keep the Florida State lead at 4-3 in each of those innings.
Poche comes in for Lange
Poche spent the fifth and sixth innings staying loose in the LSU bullpen.
In the seventh, he came in for Lange after he started the inning with a hit batter.
Although he tied the LSU record for most starts in a career with 68 his last time out, coach Paul Mainieri decided to make Poche available as a reliever with freshman Eric Walker due to start Monday.
LSU said before the game that Walker was “100 percent” healthy after a throwing session Saturday morning to check for forearm tightness that cropped up after a Tuesday scrimmage.
The two unearned runs scored in the eighth gave Poche his school record tying 38th win.