Tigers vs Gators – NCAA World Series Pick Game 2
After dropping Tuesday’s game by the score of 4-3, the LSU Tigers are in a familiar position: win or go home. The Tigers rallied to win a pair of must-win games against Oregon State over the weekend, so they’re quite familiar with the feeling of having their backs up against the wall. The Florida Gators, meanwhile, are on the brink of winning the school’s first-ever college baseball championship.
The Tigers had no answer for Florida right-hander Brady Singer, who struck out 12 over the course of seven stellar innings on Monday night. Fortunately for LSU, they have the luxury of sending star pitcher Jared Poche to the hill in an attempt to rescue their season on Tuesday evening in Omaha.
Poche isn’t your standard top-of-the-rotation arm. Rather than dominating with velocity and hard breaking stuff, Poche relies more on deception and movement with a fastball that rarely clocks in at over 90 miles-an-hour. Much like Houston Astros ace Dallas Keuchel, Poche relies on inducing weak contact grounders rather than strikeouts. The left-hander has racked up 39 career wins in a Tigers uniform, which is more than any other arm on the current staff. He’s compiled a 12-3 record so far this season with a tidy 3.33 ERA. Opposing hitters have hit just .231 against him so far in 2017.
However, Poche did struggle in his lone previous meeting with the Gators back in late March. He lasted just four innings in that one and yielded four runs on six hits while walking four. Through 10 ⅔ innings of work during the CWS, however, he’s boasting a 2.53 ERA.
While LSU will have an experienced pitcher on the mound, Florida will roll the other way. They’re sending freshman Tyler Dyson to the hill in Game 2. The righty is 3-0 so far this season with a 3.55 ERA. This will only be Dyson’s second collegiate start. He’s pitched 7 ⅓ scoreless innings in relief so far in the tournament.
Coach Kevin O’Sullivan is lacking options with both Alex Faedo and Jackson Kowar unavailable tonight. There is a chance Kowar could pitch on Wednesday if a Game 3 is necessary. Michael Byrne would have also been a candidate to start Game 2 had he not pitched two innings in relief of Singer to close out Monday’s victory for the Gators.
Dyson hasn’t been pitching for long. He was an infielder during his high school days but began working as a pitcher during his senior season. He throws a fastball in the upper-90s, which he’ll be going to rather often against a potent LSU lineup.
LSU will hope to have similar success against a traditional reliever in Dyson that Florida enjoyed against LSU’s Russell Reynolds on Monday. Reynolds started off decently before growing fatigued by the fourth inning. Considering Dyson isn’t used to pitching deep into games, the Tigers are hopeful that they can get to him early and often.
We think the Tigers even this thing up and send the College World Series to a winner-take-all Game 3 on Wednesday. There’s value in picking the Gators at +160 here, but it’s tough to see how they keep the LSU offense in-check with a reliever getting a rare start here.