CWS Top Teams Bracket, Round Two: 2009 LSU vs. 2006 Oregon StateCollege World Series
Today would have been the day six 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.
2009 LSU Tigers (56-17 overall; CWS champion)
No. 5 seed
Searching for its first national title since 2000, the Tigers seemed like a team of destiny throughout the 2009 season. LSU tied with SEC West foe Ole Miss to win the SEC regular-season crown before winning the SEC tournament title with a 6-2 win over Vanderbilt. That set the stage for a magical postseason that included just one loss on the way to a national title. LSU swept Southern, Baylor and Minnesota in the Baton Rouge Regional before cruising past Rice in the BR Super Regional to make another trip to the CWS.
Once in Omaha, the Tigers opened the tournament with a 9-5 win over Virginia before cruising past SEC foe Arkansas, 8-1, to get into the driver’s seat on their side of the bracket. The Tigers defeated Arkansas, again, 14-5, to advance to the CWS Finals against Texas. In what was one of the more electric CWS Finals in memory, the Tigers won the first game 7-6, lost the second game 5-1 and crushed the Longhorns 11-4 in the final game to win another national title.
LSU finished the CWS that year with a .313 team batting average, which ranked fourth in the CWS field, while also having a 4.18 ERA, which ranked just behind national runner-up Texas. LSU had five players hit well over .300 during that trip, including DJ LeMahieu, Sean Ochinko, Micah Gibbs, Ryan Schimpf and Jared Mitchell. Mikie Mahtook, another Big Leaguer off this team, hit .296 with a home run and seven RBIs. On the mound, Anthony Ranaudo and Louis Coleman combined for seven appearances in Omaha, while Chad Jones and current LSU recruiting coordinator/assistant coach Nolan Cain had unblemished marks out of the bullpen.
The Tigers had athleticism and power offensively, and more than enough arms to be called one of the best teams of the modern era.
2006 Oregon State Beavers (50-16 overall; CWS champion)
No. 12 seed
The first of three Oregon State teams to win the national title, this group entered the season with high expectations — which they set for themselves a year earlier, when the plucky upstart 2005 Beavers reached Omaha and went 0-2, prompting closer Kevin Gunderson to defiantly guarantee that the Beavers would be back in Omaha a year later. At the time, that seemed like an awfully bold proclamation, considering OSU had been to Omaha just once before (in 1952) and hadn’t even been to a regional since 1986. Who besides the men in orange and black could have predicted that Oregon State was actually a budding dynasty?
Ranked No. 8 in the preseason, Oregon State was rock-solid all season long, winning the Pac-10 title and hosting a regional, but getting snubbed for a top-eight national seed. But after OSU waltzed unbeaten through its regional, it got to host a super regional anyway, thanks to Stanford’s upset triumph in the Austin Regional. The Beavers swept that series too and returned to Omaha riding high — only go get blasted 11-1 by Miami in their CWS opener. And that’s when the magic happened. Oregon State rode dominant pitching through the losers’ bracket, beating Georgia and Miami, then shutting out Rice in back-to-back games, setting up the first of two straight CWS Finals showdowns against North Carolina. The Tar Heels won the opener, putting OSU’s back against the wall once again, but hot bats carried Oregon State to an 11-7 win in Game Two, and the Beavers came from behind in the late innings to win a scintillating winner-takes-all Game Three, 3-2.
Righthander Jonah Nickerson earned CWS Most Outstanding Player honors after making three starts (two on short rest) in Omaha, going 2-0, 0.84 in 21.1 innings. Nickerson and Dallas Buck gave these Beavers a dynamic one-two punch for most of the season, with All-America submariner Gunderson holding down the back of a standout bullpen that really shined in Omaha. Gunderson pitched 11 heroic innings over five appearances in Omaha, and he recorded the final out of the last game against UNC, then whipped his glove high into the air. This team also featured two iconic players at premium up-the-middle positions in shortstop Darwin Barney and catcher Mitch Canham, and its biggest power source was Pac-10 Player of the Year Cole Gillespie.
How They Match Up: This is a matchup between two blue bloods who shined during the offense-dominated BESR bat/Rosenblatt Stadium era. These teams had similar styles too — they relied most of all on pitching and defense. Both ranked in the national top 10 in ERA, the top 20 in fielding percentage, and they ranked 49th (LSU) and 57th (OSU) in scoring. But LSU was the more powerful team, ranking 25th in home runs per game, while the Beavers relied more on small ball and timely hitting but ranked 175th in homers per game. And when it comes to raw talent, give a slight edge to LSU, led by MLB all-star LeMahieu and fellow major leaguers Mahtook, Coleman, Ranaudo, Schimpf and Nola.
This is a matchup between two blue bloods who shined during the offense-dominated BESR bat/Rosenblatt Stadium era. These teams had similar styles too — they relied most of all on pitching and defense.
Who takes the W?
— NCAA Baseball (@NCAACWS) June 18, 2020