When Vanderbilt got toppled and North Carolina was pushed to three games by South Carolina, it looked like we had a clear favorite going into Omaha. LSU was firing on all cylinders, had swept a hot Oklahoma team out of the tournament and was one of the more balanced teams headed into the College World Series.
And just like that, the Tigers are gone. The LSU offense never really got going in Omaha, or at least not in a way that made a dent in the scoreboard; the Bayou Bengals managed an anemic three runs on 15 hits over the two games. The pitching was largely still there, holding UCLA to just two runs and UNC to a reasonable four, but the hitting never could match it.
In one way, this is just the continuation of a trend we've noted here over the last week or so. Only three of the eight national seeds made it to Omaha, a relatively low number, and only two remain. Both of those teams are in the losers' bracket and will have to win three straight games just to make it to the championship series. The odds are good that at least one of them will fail, and both might.
Part of that's because there really weren't eight national seeds this year, and part of that's because virtually all of the regional hosts made it through, leading to a strong field. And part of it is because there is a lot more parity in college baseball than there was even five or ten years ago. Indiana is in Omaha. That right there is a sign that this might not be the year for traditional powers and favorites. And LSU was both.
But the seniors who returned this year in order to make sure that their class was not the first one to never go to Omaha since the 1980s at least accomplished that much. There were a lot of teams almost as good as LSU's who didn't even manage to clear that bar. If the Tigers fell short of expectations, it was only because those expectations were so high to begin with.