LSU Baseball vs. North Carolina Options (Chapel Hill Regional)

With their backs against the wall, the defending national champions LSU Tigers kept their 2024 season alive on Sunday night after winning two straight elimination games.

Jay Johnson and Co. defeated Wofford to kick off the action-packed day, followed by a win over the North Carolina Tar Heels on Sunday night.

LSU sent Nate Ackenhausen to the mound as the starting pitcher against Wofford, but after a difficult first inning, Johnson pulled his starter after just two outs in the opening inning.

It was Griffin Herring who came out of the bullpen to save the Tigers after delivering 6.1 innings of top-notch baseball.

Herring stabilized LSU when they needed him most, propelling the Bayou Bengals to a crucial rematch against North Carolina.

From there, Thatcher Hurd received the ball in another showdown based on the motto “win or go home”.

Now that the talents of Herring and Hurd, as well as Jump, Holman and freshman Kade Anderson, are in play, the question is, where will LSU place in Monday's NCAA regional final?

The weapons used: Jump, Holman, Herring and Anderson

LSU entered the Chapel Hill Regional on Friday and Saturday with aces Gage Jump and Luke Holman. With both stars performing accordingly, it's unlikely either will be on the mound Monday night.

Holman will obviously not be on the field on Monday, but what Johnson does with Jump could be interesting. Will he use him if necessary? That is still uncertain, but again unlikely.

Herring and Hurd are not playing here. After two heroic performances on Sunday that put LSU in a decisive matchup on Monday, they are unavailable to play against North Carolina.

Herring (6-1) took the win against Wofford by limiting the Terriers to one run on five hits in 6.1 innings with no walks and seven strikeouts.

Hurd (3-4) pitched 5.2 innings on Sunday, his best performance of the season, limiting North Carolina to two runs on six hits with no walks and six strikeouts.

Anderson threw 46 total pitches in two separate games on Sunday after coming out of the bullpen against both Wofford and North Carolina.

Now all eyes will be on who Johnson will face on Monday.

The likely starting options: Javen Coleman and Nate Ackenhausen

Many are convinced that Coleman will get the ball in this do-or-die game on Monday, but it will be a night where the bullpen will be used in countless ways.

Coleman has started seven games this season and has also served as a relief pitcher in four different games. He has pitched a total of 24.2 innings and has a record of 3-1. Coleman has a 5.47 ERA, 27 strikeouts, 19 walks and four home runs allowed.

Ackenhausen struggled on Sunday, but his arm is still usable after throwing just 27 pitches against Wofford.

The bullpen options: Fidel Ulloa, Gavin Guidry, Sam Dutton, Justin Loer, Aiden Moffett and Will Hellmers

Ulloa has proven to be an X-factor for the Tigers after putting together a great performance against the Tar Heels on Sunday night. After throwing just 22 shots, he will be available on Monday as Johnson clearly trusts his veteran.

Ullua has made 19 appearances this season with 23.1 innings pitched. In those innings, he has 26 strikeouts with 11 walks and an ERA of 4.63.

For Guidry, it was the confident, cocky sophomore who put the finishing touches on Sunday night for the Tigers, but his availability on Monday night is questionable. He threw 40 pitches, but his status is uncertain.

Loer, Hellmers and Moffett threw against the Tar Heels on Saturday, but none of them made more than 10 throws on the day. They will be available as substitutes.

The last pitcher LSU could use is veteran Sam Dutton. Dutton has made 19 appearances this season with a 5.2 ERA and 29 strikeouts with just six walks.

Here’s what Johnson said on Sunday evening:

“I think they believe in themselves at a high level,” Johnson said. “If we've been playing so well over the last month and a half, they should believe in themselves. Like I said last night after a tough loss, today should be our best day. We're going to bring everything to the middle and give it our all, and that's what these guys did. In this tournament, you have to have great individual performances to win, and that's what we did today.”

Monday night will be tough, but Johnson and Co. are prepared for the challenge and have a chance to secure their ticket to the Super Regionals.

More LSU news:

Staying alive: LSU beats North Carolina 8-4 to stay alive in Chapel Hill

The summary: LSU defeats Wofford in decisive elimination game

The Bracket: Chapel Hill's updated regional bracket

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Follow Zack Nagy on Twitter: @znagy20 and LSU-Land: @LSUCountry_FN for all coverage of the LSU program.