Consensus No. 2 Ranking Caps Superb LSU Baseball Season

by Bill Franques
Consensus No. 2 Ranking Caps Superb LSU Baseball Season

BATON ROUGE, La. – LSU finished with a consensus No. 2 ranking in the final college baseball polls, capping a tremendous season for the Tigers, who posted a 52-20 overall record (21-9 in the SEC) and advanced to the College World Series Finals.The No. 2 ranking marked the 15th Top 5 and 21st Top 10 finish in school history. LSU has four Top 5 and six Top 10  finishes in the past 10 seasons under coach Paul Mainieri. 

Following are notes on some of the most significant accomplishments of the 2017 squad and their impact upon the program’s storied history:

• LSU won five championships in 2017 – the Tigers were SEC regular-season champions, SEC Western Division champions, SEC Tournament champions, NCAA Regional champions and NCAA Super Regional champions. LSU has won 29 separate championships over the past 10 seasons under coach Paul Mainieri.

• The Tigers made their 18th College World Series appearance in the past 32 seasons; LSU and Cal State Fullerton are tied for seventh place in all-time CWS berths … LSU has won six College World Series titles (1991, 1993, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2009) and the Tigers are tied with Texas for the second-most CWS championships; first-place Southern California has 12 CWS titles. LSU has a 40-27 (.597) all-time mark in College World Series games.

• LSU has the highest winning percentage in NCAA Tournament history with a 152-61 (.714) record, and the Tigers competed in the tournament for the 30th time in 2017. LSU was the No. 4 NCAA Tournament National Seed, marking the sixth straight year in which the Tigers were named a National Seed by the NCAA Baseball Committee. LSU and Stanford (1999-04) are the only schools in NCAA history to earn six straight National Seeds.

• For the first time in its College World Series history,  LSU won three straight elimination games in 2017, reaching the CWS Finals by eliminating Florida State and top-ranked Oregon State, which had a 56-4 record before suffering two straight losses to the Tigers.

• The 2017 Tigers won 20 of their last 23 games and 25 of their last 30, and the squad compiled a 17-game win streak from May 11-June 17. LSU had a 27-15 record on April 25, but went 25-5 over its final 30 contests.

• LSU in 2017 posted a 50-win season for the 13th time in school history and for the fourth time in the past nine seasons under coach Paul Mainieri.

• LSU coach Paul Mainieri completed his 35th season as a college coach with six seasons at St. Thomas University (1993-88), six seasons at Air Force (1989-94), 12 seasons at Notre Dame (1995-2006) and 11 seasons at LSU (2007-present) … his overall record is 1,376-694-7 and he is 512-202-3 at LSU … Mainieri is No. 5 on the NCAA Division I active coaches win list, and he is one of only seven coaches in NCAA Division I history to win over 1,300 games and a national championship.

• Mainieri, a three-time National Coach of the Year at LSU, directed the Tigers to the 2009 College World Series title, and he also has led them to CWS appearances in 2008, 2013, 2015 and 2017 … he has directed LSU to eight NCAA Tournament National Seeds in the past 10 seasons and six in a row (2008-09, 2012-17) … in the past 10 seasons, Mainieri has guided the Tigers to seven NCAA Regional titles, five Super Regional championships, six SEC Tournament titles, six SEC Western Division titles, and four SEC regular-season championships.

• Senior left-hander Jared Poche’ set the school record for career pitching victories on June 21, 2017, with a CWS win over Florida State. Poche’ was 39-12 in his four-year career, and his 39 wins are the most by any college baseball player since Brian Gasser of Division III Marietta also had 39 wins from 2009-12. Before Poche’, the last Division I pitcher to pick up 39+ career wins was Arizona State’s Mike Leake, with 40 from 2007-09. Poche’ also finished his career as LSU’s all-time leader in starts with 70.

• Right-hander Alex Lange was the 2017 first-round draft selection of the World Champion Chicago Cubs and finished his junior season at LSU with a 30-9 career record, becoming the 10th LSU pitcher to record 30 wins. Lange has compiled 406 career strikeouts, the second-highest total in LSU history,  trailing only Scott Schultz, who had 409 Ks from 1992-95.

• Junior rightfielder Greg Deichmann earned 2017 first-team All-America honors after hitting .308 with team highs of 19 homers and 73 RBI. Junior right-hander Alex Lange received second-team All-America recognition, and senior shortstop Kramer Robertson was named a third-team All-American. Pitcher Eric Walker, third  baseman Josh Smith, centerfielder Zach Watson and pitcher Zack Hess each received Freshmen All-America honors.

• Rightfielder Greg Deichmann and pitcher Alex Lange were voted 2017 first-team All-SEC, and shortstop Kramer Robertson received second-team All-SEC recognition. Catcher Michael Papierski and third baseman Josh Smith were named to the SEC All-Defensive Team, and Smith, pitcher Eric  Walker and centerfielder Zach Watson received Freshmen All-SEC honors.

• Six LSU players were selected in the first nine rounds of the 2017 MLB Draft – pitcher Alex Lange (1st round, Cubs); outfielder Greg Deichmann (2nd round, Athletics); shortstop Kramer Robertson (4th round,  Cardinals); second baseman Cole Freeman (4th round, Nationals); pitcher Jared Poche’ (9th round, Athletics); and catcher Michael Papierski (9th round, Astros). Lange became LSU’s seventh first-rounder in the last nine seasons. Other LSU players chosen in the MLB Draft included pitcher Hunter Kiel (18th round, White Sox) and pitcher Doug Norman (25th round, Reds).

• Thirteen LSU players were named to the 2017 SEC Spring Academic Honor Roll, and an additional seven Tigers were named to the 2017 SEC First-Year Academic Honor Roll.

• LSU in 2017 led the nation in home attendance for the 22nd straight season, drawing a total of 418,291 patrons to Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field, an average of 10,725 per contest.