OMAHA, NEB. — Only one team at the College World Series gets to end its season with a victory.
But even the most cynical LSU fan has to feel the Tigers are coming home winners.
The surge that carried LSU back to the College World Series and netted the program one victory and much respect has Tigers baseball percolating again.
LSU is back in the mix, no matter how devastating the ninth-inning grand slam that gave North Carolina a 7-3 victory Friday night.
“We made big step forward with the program,” LSU second-year coach Paul Mainieri said. “You win with high-character kids. What we tried to do is identify and recruit talented baseball players, kids with a lot of character. I think we succeeded in that, and the results show it on the field.
“There’s a certain way I believe the game should be played. It was an easy sell with these kids. They showed high character, they hustled and worked hard.”
North Carolina came up just short of an NCAA championship in each of the past two seasons. Yet LSU went toe-to-toe with the best pitching staff in the nation, and despite collecting only four hits had a chance to take the lead in the bottom of the eighth inning.