OMAHA, Neb. — One of the two longest active winning streaks in Division I baseball will end tonight. That much is known.
Oregon State (55-4) has won 22 in a row entering its College World Series showdown against LSU (49-17), which has won 17 straight.
"Something's gotta give. So we'll see," LSU coach Paul Mainieri told reporters after his Tigers' 5-4 victory over Florida State on Saturday night. "I would like to see you all show up for that game if you're not doing anything on Monday night. It might be a lot of fun."
The winner will take control of Bracket 1 and need one more victory to reach the best-of-three finals starting next week. Eric Walker (8-1) will start for LSU against Bryce Fehmel (5-2).
The Beavers own the nation's longest win streak this season with the 23-gamer they had from late February to mid-April. Their current streak began April 30, with win No. 22 being a 6-5 victory over Cal State Fullerton on Saturday.
"Honestly, I'm glad Oregon State won that game," said Mainieri, whose team is unbeaten since May 11. "And I'm glad we won our game even more so. It sets up a great match, I think, on Monday night."
The teams have met twice. LSU beat the Beavers both times in the 2012 Baton Rouge regional, with Austin Nola scoring on a wild pitch in the top of the 10th inning for a 6-5 victory in the second game.
LSU's 17-game streak ranks as the fifth-longest this season. Missouri had a 20-gamer and Louisville and USF had 19-gamers.
An injury scare won’t keep Walker out.
Late last week, Mainieri revealed that Walker — a talented freshman right-hander — experienced forearm soreness following a 75-pitch simulated game on June 12. But Walker threw again Saturday and felt no discomfort, prompting Mainieri to announce him as the Tigers’ starter for tonight.
“Eric Walker is 100 percent healthy,” the coach said in a statement, which also noted that regular No. 2 starter Jared Poche would be available out of the bullpen.
The SEC tournament champion Tigers started ace Alex Lange against Florida State Saturday evening at TD Ameritrade Park. Poche, a senior lefty, pitched 2 innings of shutout relief to get the win, improving his record to 11-3.
Walker wasn’t used last week as LSU swept Mississippi State in the Baton Rouge Super Regional. The 6-foot, 172-pound Texan delivered eight shutout innings with eight strikeouts and no walks against Rice in his postseason debut.
“He’s very advanced in terms of demeanor and knowing how to pitch,” Rice coach Wayne Graham said after the game. “He’s a real pitcher, no doubt. Rarely do you see some like that. He knows what he’s doing. He has a purpose with every pitch, it’s very obvious.”