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As LSU Baseball Faces Elimination for Fourth Straight Game, Confidence Has Reached a Season High

LSU-Oregon to be televised on ESPN2 Monday night as Tigers look to advance to super regional

Confidence has escaped this LSU team at times this season. The offense, pitching and defense have rarely synced up for consistent outings but for three straight elimination games, all aspects of the team have helped the Tigers win three straight and on the cusp of pulling off a rare feat, winning a regional after losing the opening game.  

There have been only five teams since 2014 to drop the opening game and come back to win a regional, most of which were host teams. In wins over Central Connecticut, Gonzaga and Oregon, the Tigers have got it done with timely swings on offense and stellar pitching out of the bullpen. 

On Saturday against Central Connecticut, it was freshman Garrett Edwards who gave the Tigers five relief innings where he allowed no runs and two hits. In what would become a double header on Sunday, starter AJ Labas went eight critical innings to preserve the bullpen not only for the Oregon game Sunday but the one Monday night as well. 

"I think our pitching staff has been the highlight of the weekend," Gavin Dugas said. "These guys have come in and held these teams down and throwing a lot of strikes, giving us the opportunity to stay in games."

On Sunday evening against the Ducks, it was freshman Javen Coleman who went a career long six innings and allowed just one run with six strikeouts in the 4-1 win. Because of the deep outings from the bullpen, coach Paul Mainieri feels extremely confident in the bullpen arms available for the Tigers. 

Will Hellmers, Devin Fontenot, Michael Fowler, Theo Millas and Trent Vietmeier all are likely to be available in some capacity.

"We've got guys available so we're gonna have to figure out how to piece it together and somebody's going to have to step up and be the hero for us tomorrow night if we're gonna have a chance to win," Mainieri said. "It's going to be some mixing and matching."

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Speaking of heroes, LSU has had some likely names step up in Eugene, none moreso than Dylan Crews. The freshman outfielder has been absolutely spectacular, going 10-for-16 at the plate with three home runs. 

Mainieri made the call to move Crews to the leadoff spot after the opening loss to Gonzaga and it's paid huge dividends for the Tigers as Crews has really sparked this offense.

"I really like the leadoff spot, I know I'm going to get pitched to a lot more," Crews said. "When I saw my name in the lineup as a leadoff spot, I was very happy. I happened to get two balls out so that was good.

"He's a game changer. He's one of those guys that comes to the field and you're amazed by what he can do," Dugas said. "It's a humble thing to be able to play with him every day and I appreciate him as a teammate."

Crews has also been helped by Zach Arnold, who originally committed to Oregon before pivoting to LSU, and has come through with six hits. Dugas finally broke out of a funk as well and lifted the Tigers to victory Sunday evening with a home run and a triple that included an error, allowing him to run home, providing the team all the momentum it needed. 

For a fourth straight game, LSU faces elimination but the Tigers are playing with a confidence that has evaded this team most of the season, making them a very dangerous matchup. 

Photo courtesy of LSUsports.