OMAHA, Neb. — LSU had fun with its new locks and looks Wednesday night in a 7-4 win over Florida State, but things could get hairy Friday afternoon.
"It's only weird if it doesn't work right? It looked like spaghetti coming out of my hat," said LSU shortstop Kramer Robertson, who had his long dark brown hair colored platinum blond amid a clump of teammates who tried various hairstyles from buzz cuts to mohawks, while others had their hair dyed. Designated hitter Beau Jordan had his head shaved.
This was all courtesy of hair stylist Rachel Eggie, who is in Omaha with her boyfriend — LSU hitting coach Micah Gibbs.
Now if Gibbs can just get his players hitting as fresh and as sharp as some of them look. Eight of nine starters in the Tigers' 13-1 loss to Oregon State on Monday night in the College World Series failed to get a hit, which is enough to send one to the salon.
On Friday, No. 4 seed LSU (50-18 overall, 2-1 in the CWS) gets another shot at No. 1 seed Oregon State (56-4 overall, 2-0 in the CWS) at 2 p.m. in TD Ameritrade Park on ESPN. If LSU loses, it is eliminated. If it gives the Beavers their first loss since April, the Tigers and Beavers will play Saturday at a time to be determined for the Bracket 1 title and right to advance to the best-of-three national championship series beginning at 6 p.m. Monday against the winner of Bracket 2.
"It was cool for one game," said Robertson, who did finally exit an 0-for-12 CWS slump — 0-for-8 with dark hair, 0-3 dyed — by singling in the ninth inning, stealing second and scoring.
"Did it's job, but now I'll get back to black, get back to normal and get after Oregon State on Friday," said Robertson, who planned to have his hair redone on Thursday.
"It's a group of ugly guys, so you can take your pick," said pitcher Zack Hess, who had his hair dyed from dirty blond to jet black like Ricky "Wild Thing" Vaughn in the "Major League" movie.
"You forget that you have it until you see yourself in the mirror or on the scoreboard," Robertson said. "It looked like spaghetti coming out of my hat."
The scoreboard told a darker tale Monday night — Oregon State 13 runs on 11 hits to LSU's 1 run on 4 hits, including two by Zach Watson and two by pinch-hitters in the ninth.
"But I don't think they got our best shot Monday night," Hess said. "And I think our team's going to keep that in the back of our head. We're going to put our best foot (and haircut) forward on this one, and I'm real excited to see how we come out Friday with Alex Lange on the mound."
Lange (9-5, 3.08 ERA) has not pitched since a six-inning no decision Saturday in a 5-4 win over Florida State in which he walked four batters. Freshman right-hander Eric Walker started against Oregon State Monday, but left in the third inning with a arm injury and has been shut down for the season. The Beavers then gobbled up seven LSU relievers.
Lange, who has walked 10 in his last two appearances, will be going against the best hitting team in the World Series as Oregon State is hitting .297 for 35th nationally. The Beavers' .324 average in the CWS leads the field here. Lange is allowing a .233 average with nine home runs while striking out 134 in 111 innings.
"Yeah, I just have to fill the zone with strikes more and make them beat you with the bat," Lange said Thursday. "It's a good hitting team, so when you give them free stuff and you're working from behind the whole time, then they're going to do some damage. I've just got to steer clear of the walks."
And Robertson and company will have to keep their hair out of their eyes against projected Oregon State starter Jake Thompson, a junior right-hander who is 14-0 on the season with a 1.84 ERA and 114 strikeouts in 122 innings with a .186 batting average allowed. Thompson was a fourth round pick by Boston last week in the Major League Baseball draft.
Or Oregon State coach Pat Casey may throw sophomore right-hander Drew Rasmussen (3-0, 0.79 ERA, 2 saves), a part-time starter who has 24 strikeouts in 22 and two-thirds innings. He returned to action only this past April after having elbow (Tommy John) surgery last year.
"Their whole pitching staff can throw their off pitches for strikes, and they can keep guys off balance," Hess said.
"They're both pretty good," said LSU coach Paul Mainieri, who at first did not like the wild hair styles, but trimmed his attitude after being called "an old fuddy dud," by his wife Karen Mainieri.
"I had to cave," he said and sent a text message to his team around midnight Wednesday that said, "All right, my wife gave me a hard time. You guys can wear your hair however the hell you want."
So there could be more wildness Friday.
"They were all fired up," Mainieri said. "You know what, in the spirit of team bonding, it's not that big of a deal."
Whatever it takes to beat Oregon State, which will come in on a wave of 23 consecutive wins. A beach ball was seen at TD Ameritrade just before LSU's eighth inning rally for a 5-4 win on Saturday, and the Tigers rode an opossum visit to left field at Alex Box Stadium in 2016 to 10 straight wins.
"Hey, a possum and beach balls have helped us win," Mainieri said. "Why not haircuts?"
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