One of the many reasons the purple and gold is back in Omaha is that it hasn't had a pitching rotation and bullpen this suffocating since 2009, when they won it all. With the number of extra inning contests, the Tigers feel confident with one of the best stoppers in the country on their side.
Senior closer and Shreveport native Chris Cotton is tied with 2009's closer Matty Ott for the most saves in a season at 16. The Byrd grad just might break that record when the Tigers invade TD Ameritrade, Cotton hasn't allowed a run since giving up 2 on April 27th.
And it was no surprise that head coach Paul Mainieri named Aaron Nola as the starter in the Tigers opening game in Omaha. He earned the respect of Oklahoma head coach Sunny Golloway after he pitched LSU to a 2-0 victory in game one. He thinks the format of the College World Series will favor LSU because they'll be able to bring back Nola to pitch 2 or 3 more times.
LSU will now face UCLA, a team with a lot of recent history at the CWS. The Bruins have been to Omaha 3 of the last 4 years, but still no national championship. UCLA is a very disciplined club, driven by tough pitching and great defense. They're missing the big bats of last year's line-up and have found their identity in forcing close games and squeezing out runs. They swept the 5th ranked team in the country, Cal State Fullerton, to punch their ticket to Nebraska.
LSU and UCLA play on Sunday at 7:00 in ESPN2.