The College World Series won’t have a Louisiana team involved this year. For years, LSU, and to a lesser extent Tulane, the University of Louisiana, and even the University of New Orleans made the trip to play for the NCAA college baseball title in Omaha, Nebraska.
This year’s College World Series will feature multiple teams from the SEC, but not the early-season favorite Tennessee, which was knocked off by Notre Dame (sorry, not sorry).
LSU has won six NCAA titles, with the last coming in 2009. Since Louisiana fans love to follow their teams and know how to party, Omaha has always welcomed a College World Series with a bayou vibe. Not to fear, though – we’ll be back soon enough.
Even though this year’s College World Series won’t feature a LA team, that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun and engage with the games. The easiest way to get started is with an online LA sports betting app, such as DraftKings or Ceasar’s sportsbook.
In the meantime, here are nine of the best College World Series moments involving Louisiana baseball programs.
1984 – It’s our first time
If you ever want to stump a Louisiana sports fan, ask them who the first Louisiana college was to make the College World Series.
The answer? The University of New Orleans in 1984. College baseball was a much different sport back then. The Privateers (or Bucs as they were also called) went into Starkville and beat Mississippi State to advance to the CWS.
The Bulldogs had two future MLB stars in Will Clark and Rafael Palmiero. UNO had Jim Bullinger and Wally “The Whip” Whitehurst.
In Omaha, UNO lost to Texas, 6-3 in their first game, but came back to beat Michigan 11-3 (Michigan had a pretty good infielder named Barry Larkin). The Privateers were eliminated by Oklahoma State in 10 innings.
But what UNO did was show every other school in Louisiana the path to Omaha and College World Series glory.
2001 & 2005 – A wave crashes down
Tulane advanced to its first College World Series in 2001 after winning a nation-best 55 games. They looked legit, taking an 8-0 lead on Stanford in their first game, but it all fell apart. In a game that took four hours and 18 minutes, Stanford rallied to win 13-11. Tulane was later eliminated by Cal-State Fullerton 11-2. But if you think that’s bad, what happened to Tulane in 2005 was even worse.
The Green Wave were No. 1 in the nation and this time, beat Oregon State in their CWS opener on a Scott Madden double. That’s a Beavers team that had Jacoby Ellsbury.
After a loss to Texas, Tulane faced Baylor in an elimination game. The Wave led 7-0 in the seventh inning. Sigh.
Baylor scored three runs in the ninth, including the final two on a potential game-ending double play when the Wave second baseman threw the ball away. It’s the last time Tulane has played in Omaha.
2009 – Running the gauntlet one last time
After winning the title in 2000, LSU switched coaches twice – moving on from Skip Bertman. They went back to the CWS in 2003, 2004, and 2008. They didn’t win and the Tiger fans were getting a little restless.
In 2009, Coach Paul Manieri’s club team featured future MLB star DJ LeMahieu. The Tigers won the Regional and beat Rice in the Super Regional sending them back to Omaha.
LSU beat Arkansas twice to make the finals against Texas, which was now a best–of–three format. Hey, I guess it’s better for TV, but I miss the one-game format.
People forget, but Texas had LSU dead in game one until LeMahieu hit a two–run, two–out double to tie it at six. Mike Mahtook (a great Louisiana name) won it in the 11th. After losing Game two to Texas, LSU jumped all over the Longhorns in decisive Game three to win 11-4. It’s still the last LSU baseball title.
1997 – We got ‘Bama
Coming off the high of the 1996 title, it took this LSU team a while to find itself. The Tigers were in trouble in the Regional, losing to South Alabama in the second game, forcing them to beat Long Beach State in an elimination game, then beat the Jaguars twice to get back to Omaha.
As LSU rolled through Omaha, what was looming was a rematch with Miami in the final, but Alabama beat the Hurricanes twice to set up an All–SEC championship game. It was never close. LSU scored six runs in the first and led 9-0 In the second inning. Doug Thompson was a killer in relief for LSU in the final. Brandon Larson was Most Outstanding Player with three homers and eight RBI.
1993 – Just re-lax
The Tigers started the season No. 1 and had a loaded lineup led by Todd Walker. They got to the College World Series as one of the favorites but were in major trouble in the semifinals against Long Beach State. LSU was down 5-3 with one out in the ninth when Armando Rios belted a two-run double. Long Beach walked the next batter to set up a potential double play, but Walker was the batter on deck.
Walker belted a single through the right side to send LSU to the finals against Wichita State.
LSU put the ball in the hands of freshman pitcher Brett Laxton. Listen, this is college baseball, no one pitches like this, but Laxton threw a shutout with 16 strikeouts, still a CWS final record (and could likely stand for a while). Tigers’ second title was an 8–0 win, and the only one where the story was a pitcher, not the hitters.
1991 – All for one
This was ‘Gorilla Ball’ at its apex. LSU had made it to the College World Series in 1986, 1987, 1989, and 1990. As hard as it is to believe now, people thought Bertman couldn’t get his team over the hump. The 1991 College World Series changed all that.
LSU just hit bombs the whole week. Lyle Mouton hit a grand slam against Florida that may never come down. Gary Hymel destroyed baseballs. LSU had to get by Florida in the bracket twice and ran into Wichita State in the final. Chad Ogea got the start on the mound. Armando Rios belted a homer and Hunter Greene closed out a 6–3 win.
The Tigers scored 12 runs a game in the NCAA Tournament. That’s pretty good run support.
2000 – What might have been
We almost had the ultimate Louisiana match-up in the 2000 CWS finals as LSU and the University of Louisiana (then Louisiana-Lafayette) were on opposite sides of the bracket.
It’s Louisiana’s only trip to Omaha. The Cajuns were game, losing to Stanford in their first game, but coming back to beat San Jose State and Clemson by a run. That set up a rematch with the Cardinal. The Cajuns led 6-0 in the third inning, but the wind was blowing out and Stanford started mashing. The Cajuns made four errors in a game that also saw eight homers. Steve Feehan made the All-Tournament team, but we didn’t get an All-Louisiana final.
2000 – In Cresse we trust
I feel like this LSU title is overshadowed by the Warren Morris homer, but if that hadn’t happened, this would be the greatest LSU baseball moment ever. Stanford led LSU 5-2 heading to the eighth and was in complete control. LSU didn’t have a hit from the third inning to the seventh. Then Blake Barbier belted a solo homer. Wally Pontiff (may he rest in peace) walked. Then Jeremy Witten slugged a two-run blast.
It stayed tied at five heading to the bottom of the ninth and LSU fans remember what happened next. Brad Cresse, who had been 1-12 in the series, singled in Ryan Theriot from second base to win it via a walk-off. The celebration was on and LSU was officially the Team of the Decade.
1996 – The ultimate baseball moment
There’s Billy Cannon’s run, Shaquille O’Neal’s dunks, and the entire 2019 football season, but the Warren Morris home run in the bottom of the ninth inning in the CWS final is the best single moment in LSU sports history.
Morris had broken the hamate bone in his wrist early in the season and hadn’t played much. This was the year LSU beat Georgia Tech 29-13 in the South II regional final. LSU scored 18 runs in the seventh inning and 22 batters that inning. Yes, those are all records.
This Miami team was loaded and had things in hand with super closer Robbie Morris on the bump and an 8-7 lead. Morris came to the plate and made solid contact and the ball just curled inside the right-field foul pole. LSU went 22-0 in games Morris played that year. It was the first college title game to ever end on a walk–off homer. It was his only homer of the year.
Morris didn’t make the All-Tournament team. He just made himself a baseball legend.