Astros top pick Bregman sparks LSU

Astros top pick Bregman sparks LSU

OMAHA, Neb. -- Alex Bregman and the Louisiana State offense were scuffling.

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The Tigers hadn't been themselves at the plate, scoring three runs or fewer in four of their seven postseason contests entering Tuesday's elimination game against Cal State Fullerton in the College World Series. LSU was averaging 4.3 runs per game in the NCAA Tournament -- nearly three runs fewer than in the regular season.

Bregman, the No. 2 overall pick by the Astros in the 2015 MLB Draft, wasn't immune. The junior shortstop was hitting just .208 (5-for-24) with zero extra-base hits in the postseason.

Looking for a way to spark his offense -- and admittedly expecting to face a left-handed starting pitcher -- LSU coach Paul Mainieri floated the idea of hitting leadoff to his star shortstop, who jumped at it.

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The Tigers ended up facing right-hander Connor Seabold on Tuesday, but Mainieri kept the right-handed-hitting Bregman atop of an order that finally showed life in a 5-3 win over Cal State Fullerton backed by Bregman's 4-for-5 performance.

"I really felt that we just needed a spark at the top of the order. And who is a tougher out than Alex Bregman?" Mainieri said. "I didn't necessarily expect him to get four hits, but I thought he would make the pitcher work. I thought he wouldn't strike out. I thought he'd give you a good quality at-bat, make their pitcher work hard right there in the first inning. As it turns out, he had a big day."

Three of Bregman's four singles came leading off an inning, but he only scored once -- in the third inning, when he started a four-run rally that helped the Tigers overcome Cal State Fullerton's three-run first.

So although Bregman -- typically LSU's No. 3 hitter and hitting leadoff for the first time all season -- reached, it was Kade Scivicque (fourth round, Tigers), Chris Sciambra and Andrew Stevenson (second, Nationals) who provided the damage.

"He presents problems. He gets on the base, creates havoc, but I don't think he hurt us," Cal State Fullerton coach Rick Vanderhook said. "It was the other guys in the middle of the order that did some damage as we were going trying to get that thing stopped."

Whether it's setting the table, driving in runs or stealing bases, Bregman is happy to do whatever it takes to help keep the Tigers in Omaha as they look to battle their way into the College World Series Finals.

"I would just like to win. Wherever I need to hit in the lineup, whatever works," Bregman said. "I was trying to square balls up and put together quality at-bats and find ways on base and try to create some offense. We wanted to kind of get our swagger back offensively. We've had a really good offense all year long, and it's coming."

COLLEGE WORLD SERIES SCHEDULE/RESULTS

Saturday's games
Virginia 5, Arkansas 3
No. 4 Florida 15, No. 5 Miami 3

Sunday's games
No. 7 Texas Christian 10, No. 2 Louisiana State 3
Vanderbilt 4, Cal State Fullerton 3*
*Finished Monday night

Monday's games
No. 5 Miami 4, Arkansas 3
Virginia 1, No. 4 Florida 0

Tuesday's games
No. 2 LSU 5, Cal State Fullerton 3
No. 7 TCU vs. Vanderbilt 8 p.m. ET

Wednesday's game
No. 4 Florida vs. No. 5 Miami, 8 p.m. ET

Cash Kruth is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @cashkruth. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.