Gausman overcomes to get win
LSU ace Kevin Gausman is projected to go in the first five picks of the MLB draft Monday night because he unloads high-90s heat from a long-limbed, 6-foot-4 frame seemingly made to be a pitcher’s body.
Because he entered postseason play with a 10-1 record and 2.84 ERA and earned first-team All-America recognition.
Because he dominates.
And because of nights like Saturday — when he doesn’t.
If you watched the usually electric right-hander labor in the early innings of top seed LSU’s 7-1 victory over second-seeded Oregon State, it was clear Gausman did not have his best stuff in the first regional action of his college career.
It was clear he probably wouldn’t throw a complete game, the way he did in his final two Southeastern Conference starts of the season. It was clear that he was not going to be the pitcher who has rolled through most of the lineups he’s faced.
Given the manner in which Gausman struggled in the Baton Rouge Regional’s pivotal winners bracket game, this may have been the most impressive outing for the sophomore in a season loaded with them.
He missed his spots. He allowed nine base runners through the first five innings.
But he still went eight innings, seemingly getting stronger as the night went on and his pitch count grew. By the end, he had thrown a season-high 129 pitches, allowing Oregon State only a single run in the third on three straight singles.
The Beavers threatened much more. Gausman always answered.
He left two runners on in the first, wiggling out of a one-out, two-on jam by inducing Danny Hayes into a fielder’s choice grounder and then fielding a Ryan Dunn grounder and making the play at first. He left two more on in the third, getting Kavin Keyes on an inninig-ending groundout to avert further damage after Oregon State had cut LSU’s lead to 2-1.
The Beavers touched Gausman for seven hits, but they left Alex Box Stadium with a 1-1 regional mark just the same.
Now the Tigers can turn their focus to winning one more game to reach a super regional for the sixth time in school history.
They can sit back and wait on an opponent Sunday night that will have to beat them twice.
As for Gausman, there’s still a chance he may be in the LSU dugout watching his team play a regional final when his name is called during Monday night’s draft.
It’s certain Gausman, listed by MLB.com as the nation’s fourth-best prospect, will go early in the draft. It is uncertain whether LSU will have a game going on at that time.
But with his dig-deep gem Saturday, Gausman did his part to make sure LSU returns to the Box next weekend with a chance to earn the school’s latest College World Series bid.
And that he himself will get one more start at home before moving on to pro ball.