OMAHA, NE (WVUE) - Relieved is without a doubt the best way to describe the Tigers after making an incredible comeback to beat Florida State. In three trips to TD Ameritrade Park, it's just the first time they've won the opening game.
"You win the first two games, and you're in a great position," says LSU head coach Paul Mainieri. "You haven't won anything yet, but it's the difference between having to win one more game and three more games. We were able to fight back and win last night. That was a huge victory for us. That makes this one that much more important."
Important, but not any easier. Oregon State is on a tear, winners in their last 22 straight games.
"We're playing a team that's 55-4. So I guess for the first time ever, people may be able to consider us an underdog. Maybe not. We don't consider ourselves underdogs."
And why should they? LSU's streak isn't that far behind the Beavers'. The Tigers have won 17 consecutive games, and done so against arguably tougher competition through the end of the SEC regular season, SEC Tournament and NCAA Tournament.
"Both of us are on hot streaks," says catcher Mike Papierski. "It's going to be a really good baseball game. We've got Eric Walker on the mound, who's been pitching the best he can pitch. He's going to throw strikes and give us a chance to win, and that's all we can ask for."
Walker is technically a freshman, but he doesn't carry himself that way. He's been a force on the mound throughout the entire postseason. He won games that clinched the SEC regular season title, the SEC Tournament title and a regional championship. Walker is built for the big games.
"My dad always told me to bet he best, you've got to beat the best," says Walker. "You come out here, and you compete all your life. You train all summer. You train all fall. Why wouldn't you want to pitch in this game?"
"He didn't get to pitch in the super regional, but he threw a simulated game a couple of days later in practice," says Robertson. "He had a perfect game going through five or six innings. He's really locked in right now, and hopefully he can keep it going tomorrow against a really good team."
Walker adds that he has no nerves, and you can't help but believe him. He's had ice in his veins the better part of the last two months, and we've seen no signs of him slowing down.