LSU coach Skip Bertman knows Mississippi State is no slouch. After all, the Bulldogs beat the two-time defending NCAA champs three games out of five this spring.
"We played them at the very beginning of the year, the very end of the year and during a regular-season three-game set at home," Bertman recalled."We only won two at home, and even those were very tightly contested ball games," he said. "It's been a year in which Mississippi State started slowly and got better and better as they went on."
Monday at the College World Series, No. 5 seeded LSU (47-17) plays No. 8 Mississippi State (42-21) in a second-round game. Top-seeded Florida (46-17) plays No. 4 Southern Cal (44-17) in an elimination contest.
In Sunday's action, No. 6 Arizona State beat No. 2 Miami 9-2 in the second round, and No. 7 Long Beach State's 7-4 victory over No. 3 Florida State made the Seminoles the first team sent home.
LSU set a College World Series record with eight home runs during Saturday's 12-10 win over USC. Bertman said homers are the best way to offset a team batting average of .301, lowest among College World Series teams.
"We need to keep hitting our home runs," he said. "That's what we do best, and we've got to get those homers with runners on."
LSU has 148 home runs this season, and Mississippi State coach Pat McMahon said he has reminded his pitchers that giving up a home run doesn't always translate into a loss.
"With the wind blowing out and the strength of today's players, there are going to be home runs hit," McMahon said. "Pitchers have to understand that it's a big part of college baseball today."
In the victory by Arizona State (40-22), left-hander Ryan Mills and reliever Aaron Kramer limited hot-hitting Miami to six singles.
Mills (8-3) is expected to be among the first pitchers taken in Tuesday's major league draft. He pitched into the seventh inning, allowing five hits and two earned runs with six strikeouts and three walks.