CWS Top Teams Bracket: 2018 Oregon State vs. 2017 LSUCollege World Series
Today would have been the day three of the 2020 College World Series. Since we don’t have live baseball to watch, we’re taking a look back at the greatest CWS teams of the modern 64-team NCAA tournament era. In conjunction with NCAA.com, we’ve made our picks for the 32 best Omaha teams since 1999 and seeded them into a bracket.
Now it’s your turn. Each day, we’ll present a few matchups for fans to vote on, as we work our way through the bracket to determine the greatest College World Series team of the super regional era.
2018 Oregon State Beavers (55-12 overall; CWS champion)
No. 7 seed
Just a year after having an incredible season with single-digit losses and not winning a national title, partly because of some unexpected off the field drama, the Beavers were back at it in 2018. OSU put together a strong regular season with a 20-9 record in Pac 12 play before earning the No. 3 national seed. The Beavers were on the warpath in the NCAA tournament, getting even with nemesis LSU in the Corvallis Regional by outscoring the Tigers a whopping 26-1 in two games. OSU took care of business in Super Regional action, too, by sweeping Max Meyer and Minnesota to make back-to-back trips to Omaha.
Once in Omaha, the Beavers actually had to come out of the loser’s bracket, dropping an 8-6 decision to North Carolina in their first game. OSU proceeded to pummel Pac 12 rival Washington, 14-5, before beating the Tar Heels 11-6 and double dipping Mississippi State 12-2 and 5-2 to advance to the CWS Finals against Arkansas. OSU then dropped the first game of the series to the Razorbacks, before beating the Razorbacks 5-3 in the second game. Arkansas was an out away from winning the national title before a foul ball dropped between a pair of Hogs defenders. The rest was history as Trevor Larnach hit a laser beam of a home run to win the game and the Beavers won 5-0 the next night behind the arm of then freshman righthander Kevin Abel to win the program’s second national title.
Oregon State dominated some of the CWS’s most important categories that year. For instance, OSU hit .327 as a team in 2018, with the next closest team being Texas Tech with a .275 average. Meanwhile, the Beavs led all teams with a 3.38 ERA. Florida was second with a 3.50 ERA. Abel was the CWS MVP for obvious reasons. In addition to his complete game against Arkansas, he made four appearances in the tourney and had an 0.86 ERA in 21 innings, along with 23 strikeouts and seven walks. Meanwhile, Larnach hit .417 and eventual No. 1 overall pick, catcher Adley Rutschman, had an incredible run in Omaha with a .567 average, three doubles, two home runs and 13 RBIs, along with a .649 OBP.
It was a historic year for the Beavs, and it was one that would allow legendary coach Pat Casey to ride off into the sunset a champion.
2017 LSU Tigers (52-20 overall; national runner-up)
No. 26 seed
What a terrific matchup this is between the 2018 Beavers and 2017 Tigers. Though the ’18 OSU team got even with LSU in that postseason, the Tigers were the victors against the 2017 OSU squad in Omaha. LSU had a terrific regular season, tying Florida for the SEC regular season title before earning the No. 4 national seed. In the Baton Rouge Regional, LSU defeated Texas Southern and Southeastern Louisiana before shutting out Rice to advance to the super regional round against Mississippi State. There, LSU swept the Bulldogs in two games to make yet another trip to the College World Series.
In Omaha, the Tigers edged Florida State 5-4 to begin the tournament before Oregon State pummeled them 13-1 in the second game. LSU stayed alive with yet another win over FSU before getting even with the Beavers in the next two games, outscoring Pat Casey’s squad 9-2 in the two contests to advance to the CWS Finals against Florida. In the title series, the Tigers were narrowly edged by the Gators in the first game before UF won its first national title with a 6-1 triumph in the second game. National titles are the expectation in Baton Rouge, so it was a disappointing end to what was a terrific season.
LSU finished that Omaha trip ranked second in team batting average (.243), while also ranking fourth in team ERA with a 4.06 clip. LSU also finished fourth in fielding percentage. Electric outfielder Zach Watson was by far the team leader from an offensive standpoint with a .346 average, while catcher Mike Papierski had three home runs during the run. Meanwhile, lefthander Jared Poche was the headliner on the mound with a 1.65 ERA in 16.1 innings, along with nine strikeouts and three walks. Alex Lange also put together a strong start against Oregon State and tallied a 3.38 ERA in 13.1 innings, along with 16 strikeouts.
How They Match Up: Both of these teams would qualify as worthy foes, but Oregon State has the advantage in a few areas. The Beavers had much more star power from an offensive standpoint with Rutschman and Larnach leading the way, while Abel was on a path with destiny throughout the CWS. With that said, the Tigers had a pair of high-quality arms in Poche and Lange, and had disposed of the Beavers a year earlier. So, perhaps, this specific club would’ve had the Beavs’ number. We’ll never know.
— NCAA Baseball (@NCAACWS) June 16, 2020