It's not much of a story that Oregon State eliminated Louisiana-Monroe on Sunday afternoon to advance to the championship round against No. 7 LSU.
The Beavers (40-19) cruised to an 11-2 win against the Warhawks (32-30), and they held a 7-1 advantage as early as the fourth inning -- the upcoming rematch with LSU was a foregone conclusion soon after the first pitch was thrown.
What stands out a little bit more isn't the win itself, but the boost that Oregon State starting pitcher Ben Wetzler delivered to his ball club. Much like LSU ace Kevin Gausman on Saturday night, Wetzler labored through an intensive, 128-pitch start, allowing eight hits but only two runs. More impressive than that, Wetzler nearly pulled off a complete game in the 90-degree heat of a June afternoon in Baton Rouge. He lasted 8.2 innings and struck out eight ULM batters, allowing the Beavers to shelve their bullpen for the Tigers.
"It was huge for us to get such a good start from Benny," said Oregon State coach Pat Casey.
Said Wetzler: "It's kind of my job. I just wanted to go as many as I could and help us keep as many arms as possible for tonight."
Wetzler's long afternoon frees Casey up to be selective with his relievers, and that's probably going to come in handy. Casey said he'll be starting right-hander Taylor Starr, who has only managed 45 innings in 17 appearances this season -- with just six of those appearances coming as starts.
Still, it's tough to ignore the fifth-year senior's most recent start, a 6.1 inning shutout of No. 10 Oregon.
The Tigers will counter with their typical Saturday starter Ryan Eades (5-2, 3.36). Aaron Nola and Gausman each lasted eight innings in their wins for LSU earlier this weekend, so LSU coach Paul Mainieri should have his full compliment of relievers if Eades runs into trouble.