OMAHA, Neb. — LSU starter Alex Lange and freshman reliever Zack Hess combined to throw a two-hitter against No. 1 Oregon State and bring the Tigers within a game of the College World Series final, 3-1, on Friday afternoon at TD Ameritrade Stadium Omaha.
Lange (10-5), a first-round draft pick, put together another special performance, pitching into the eighth inning while allowing only one run on two hits against the Beavers. He struck out eight on the afternoon to bump his career total to 406, two shy of the LSU record set by Scott Schultz.
Freshman right-hander Zack Hess entered with the bases empty and one out in the bottom of the eighth and struck out the Nos. 2 and 3 Beavers hitters. In the bottom of the ninth, Hess struck out the cleanup hitter, then got a pop-up to left field and a strikeout to earn his third save of the CWS.
It was LSU’s first two-hitter in its College World Series history.
LSU (51-18) forced a winner-takes-all bracket final rematch against Oregon State to be held Saturday. If TCU defeats Florida on Friday, LSU and Oregon State will play at 2 p.m.; if Florida wins and eliminates TCU, the Tigers and Beavers will play at 7 p.m. The Tigers will be the home team on Saturday.
In the top of the second inning, LSU built a 2-0 advantage off Oregon State starter Jake Thompson (14-1). Tigers right fielder Greg Deichmann earned a double to right field – the first hit by a left-hander against Oregon State in the tournament – and moved to third on a single by the middle by Zach Watson. Another single by the middle scored Deichmann, and Beau Jordan executed a safety sacrifice to perfection for the second-straight game to drive in Watson and give LSU a 2-0 lead.
Watson, who’s 8 for his last 12 in Omaha, led the Tigers at the plate with a perfect 3-for-3 afternoon that included a walk and run scored.
Oregon State (56-5), which saw its 23-game winning streak snapped, cut the deficit in half in the bottom of third, as Lange struggled with his command in the inning. His third walk of the inning game with the bases loaded and LSU’s lead fell to 2-1.
A no-doubt solo home run off the bat of LSU third baseman Josh Smith in the top of the seventh off Thompson gave LSU some breathing room. Oregon State’s Max Engelbrekt entered with two outs in the inning and allowed a single by Jake Slaughter before getting Kramer Robertson to ground out and end the inning.