OMAHA, Neb. — Oregon State maintained its patient approach against one of the nation’s top pitchers.
Outside of a third-inning lapse, LSU ace Alex Lange rode his command — and his power curveball — to snap the Beavers’ second 23-game winning streak of the season.
Lange allowed just two hits in 7⅓ dominant innings while reliever Zack Hess loudly slammed the door for a 3-1 win Friday afternoon at the College World Series. The top-seeded Beavers (56-5) and fourth-seeded Tigers (51-18) will meet again on Saturday for a spot in the championship series.
“He was just hitting his spots,” said OSU’s Steven Kwan, who was involved in a controversial play in the third inning. “With good pitchers like that, you have to make sure you get a good pitch and sometimes I felt like I missed the pitch that I could’ve hit.”
It was sweet revenge for the Tigers, who suffered an embarrassing 13-1 loss to OSU on Monday.
Jake Thompson (14-1) pitched well in defeat, surrendering three runs on six hits in 6⅔ innings before a TD Ameritrade Park crowd of 21,257. Thompson, a redshirt junior right-hander, struck out five and walked one.
Lange (10-5), taken 30th overall by the Chicago Cubs in the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft, gave up just one run with eight strikeouts and four walks. The junior right-hander issued three free passes in the third, including a bases-loaded walk to Trevor Larnach that forced in Michael Gretler.
“He didn’t walk a lot of guys,” shortstop Cadyn Grenier said. “You saw the one inning he did, he gave up a run. Other than that, he challenged us and we just didn’t hit.”
After losing Larnach, Lange came back to strike out KJ Harrison and escape the inning with a 2-1 lead.
The two-time first-team all-SEC selection retired 14 of the final 16 batters he faced.
“I felt great, I felt strong,” Lange said. “I didn't think coach (Paul Mainieri) was going to let me go out there for part of the eighth, but he did. So I was trying to keep us deep in the ballgame, give Hess a break.
“That was my mentality, just take this team as deep into the game as I can. And when it's time, hand it over to the monster.”
Hess overwhelmed the Beavers, collecting four of his five outs via strikeout for his fourth save of the year.
The lanky freshman righty used an imposing mid-90s fastball to get ahead and finished off multiple batters with a devastating curve.
“His curveball, luckily the one he threw me was a ball because it was pretty hard to pick up,” said Tyler Malone, who struck out looking to end the game. “He made good pitches and the umpire got me.”
The Beavers finished with a season-low two hits, which were doubles by Malone and Gretler.
With one out in the third, Gretler doubled to right and Lange walked Grenier to put runners on first and second. Kwan then sent a line drive off the left-field wall — about two feet below the pole — that hit the yellow line but was ruled foul.
Instant replay was not used to look at the reviewable play.
Zach Watson finished 3 for 3 for the SEC tournament champions while Josh Smith went 2 for 4 with two RBIs, including a seventh-inning solo home run.
After going down 1-2-3 to start the game, LSU broke through with a pair in the second.
Greg Deichmann stroked a leadoff double and Watson followed with a seeing-eye single, putting runners on the corners with no outs. A Smith base hit up the middle plated Deichmann and Beau Jordan bunted home Watson for a 2-0 lead.
One inning later, OSU cut the deficit in half when Lange walked Larnach with the bases loaded to force in Gretler. Free passes to Grenier and Nick Madrigal set up Larnach’s run-scoring walk, his sixth RBI of the CWS.
But Lange came back to fan Harrison on a 1-2 curve, ending the rally.
“Sitting 1-2, then you go to your strikeout pitch,” Lange said. “It was a good breaking ball. It’s a good hitter, and he just missed.”
Max Engelbrekt pitched 2⅓ innings of one-hit, scoreless relief to preserve OSU’s bullpen for Saturday.
Mainieri announced that Caleb Gilbert (6-1, 2.29 ERA) will get the start. Drew Rasmussen (3-0, 0.79) is expected to go for the Beavers, who will be the visitors.