North Carolina (57-11) vs. LSU (57-10)
Omaha, Neb. – TD Ameritrade Park
ESPN (Karl Ravech, Kyle Peterson & Kaylee Hartung)
"It's what you have in this tournament. Nothing but great teams, and there's very little margin for error. We've got to play a little bit better. We didn't play as well as we could. I think all our players would probably tell you that we didn't play as well as we could tonight... So we've just gotta go back to playing good fundamental baseball and play better on Tuesday and hopefully get a win and get to play again on Thursday." -- LSU head coach Paul Mainieri
LSU has quite a history with the College World Series as this is its 26th time making the trip to Omaha. The program owns the highest all-time NCAA Tournament winning percentage at .729 (132-49) and has claimed six national titles (1991, 1993, 1996, 1997, 2000 & 2009). In head coach Paul Mainieri's seventh season in Baton Rouge, the Tigers delivered in dominating fashion, leading the nation with an .864 winning percentage. The team's 57 wins are tied with the 1997 total for most in program history. LSU also owns the nation's best record against RPI Top-50 teams at 32-9.
Throughout Regional and Super Regional play, the Tigers seemed to be coasting entering their first game with UCLA in Omaha. LSU had not lost a game and won their Super Regional with a final game 11-1 rout of Oklahoma. The No. 4 national seed fell 2-1 to the Bruins on Sunday night after two costly errors ended up negating an impressive performance by their ace right-handed pitcher Aaron Nola (12-1, 1.68 ERA). LSU has given up seven unearned runs during Nola's 23 postseason innings despite the fact that the team ranks fifth in the nation in fielding percentage at .980. LSU has committed nine errors in the NCAA Tournament.
The Tigers and the Tar Heels are the only returning teams from the 2009 CWS and the powerhouses will meet in an elimination game Tuesday afternoon. Both teams won their conference tournaments and have been touted as national championship contenders throughout the season. One will be making an early exit from Omaha Tuesday evening.
LSU is batting .306 as a team on the season, good for 19th nationally, and is led by SEC Freshman of the Year Alex Bregman. The Albuquerque, N.M. native is one of five Tigers hitting over .300 on the year and tops the list at .380 along with leading the team in runs (59) and hits (104) while racking up 52 RBI. Mason Katz isn't far behind, hitting an impressive .366 while leading the Tigers with 68 RBI on the season. Katz's .620 slugging percentage and 15 homeruns also lead the team. Other notable names to watch out for are senior outfield Ralph Rhymes, who's started all 67 games for the Tigers and is batting .343, and third baseman Christian Ibarra (.311), who's 5-foot-7 frame doesn't quite match the big production he can deliver on the diamond.
Nola, the SEC Pitcher of the Year won't face the Tar Heels after dishing out eight innings of work and suffering his first loss in over a year against UCLA. The Tigers, however, have a plethora of reinforcements behind him that are capable of delivering. LSU is currently third nationally in team ERA with a 2.41 mark. Sophomore left-handed slinger Cody Glenn will be called upon to take the mound for the Tigers in Tuesday's elimination game. The 6-foot-4 Houston, Tex. product has started 14 games this season and owns a 2.41 ERA through 82.0 innings of work. Glenn has given up 70 hits and 28 runs (six unearned) with 16 walks and 37 strikeouts.