Kristian: Tigers and Tarheels face elimination at the CWS
It’s hard to believe two of the top baseball programs in the country are looking at a “two and done” scenario at the CWS this afternoon. The Tigers and Tarheels have gone back and forth in the national polls as the number 1 team in country, with LSU as the current No. 1. The Tarheels are the No. 1 seed in the tournament and No. 2 in the country. UNC is 57 and 11 this season. The Tigers are 57 and 10.
So, what gives?
“I really expect a great ball game," LSU coach Paul Mainieri told us on Monday afternoon. "I really believe we’ll play a lot better.”
The Tarheels found themselves in the loser’s bracket after falling to N.C State in the opening round 8 to 1.
Mainieri says the Tigers will regroup quickly after the first-round loss to UCLA.
“We know what the rules are now,” Mainieri said. “We've got to win four in a row to get through the bracket. It's very doable, you’ve just got to go out and play. We've got to play better than we did Sunday night. If we can do that ‑‑ we can't look beyond Tuesday. And we've got a really tough team to face on Tuesday.”
LSU will send sophomore left hander Cody Glenn to the mound in the elimination match against UNC. Glenn is 7 and 2 on the season, but rust may be a factor. Glenn hasn’t pitched since the SEC tournament over three weeks ago. The sophomore southpaw was suspended for the regional round of the NCAA tournament, and did not see action in the Super Regional win over Oklahoma. “I gotta have a good start that’s the key. I’m gonna catch my groove and I am gonna try to catch my groove as soon as possible in the game” Glenn said. Coach Paul Mainieri admitted he is a little concerned about rust being a factor in starting Glenn.
North Carolina will counter with freshman right hander Trent Thornton (11-1. Thornton spent most of the season as the Tarheels' closer. He’s a tremendously hard thrower with a fastball that touches the mid-nineties. Thornton mixes speeds really well in addition to his electric fast ball.
UNC and LSU are almost mirror images of one another, with nearly identical records. The Tarheels are 57 and 11, the Tigers are 57 and 10. Along with being the top 2 teams in the national polls. LSU is hitting .306 as a team, UNC is hitting .305. The all-time series between the two schools is even at 2-2. The Tarheels eliminated LSU from the CWS back in 2008.
LSU coach Paul Maineiri’s decision to start Cody Glenn on the mound is a logical one. UNC has struggled against southpaws this season with more than half of their 11 losses coming against lefties. The Tarheels also have a handful of left handed hitters in their line-up. Mainieri clearly wants the match up advantage in his favor.
One of the top two teams in the country will be headed home tomorrow night. For either team it would be an extremely disappointing cap to an otherwise stellar season. Both squads entered the CWS with aspirations and legitimate expectations of winning a championship. This is the match up that many would want to see in the championship series, but instead we’ll watch one eliminate the other Tuesday afternoon at 2.