COLLEGE WORLD SERIES NOTEBOOK / LON EUBANKS : Cal State Fullerton Familiar With Impressive Tale of the Tigers

Cal State Fullerton resumes play in the College World Series at 4:36 (PDT) today against a Louisiana State team that is known for its power hitting.

The Tigers have 87 home runs this season, more than the 1991 and 1993 teams that won national championships. LSU had 14 homers in its four games in the NCAA regional on its home field.

The two top Tiger hitters, shortstop Russ Johnson and second baseman Todd Walker, lead the way. Walker has 18 home runs and Johnson has 17.

"They were impressive against Florida State the other night, even though they lost the game, 6-3," said George Horton, the Fullerton associate head coach who handles scouting for Coach Augie Garrido. "They've got a lot of tradition going for them, but we do, too."

LSU has won the two national championships in the last three years under Coach Skip Bertman. The Titans also won national titles under Garrido in 1979 and 1984.

The Titans are scheduled to start Matt Wagner (12-1, 2.40 earned-run average) in the game. LSU is expected to start one of two sophomores, either Brett Laxton (4-4) or Jeremy Tyson (9-3). Laxton had a complete-game shutout against Wichita State in last year's national championship game, but he was troubled by a strained shoulder for several weeks.

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Garrido is considering three alternatives in today's game for center fielder Dante Powell, who is still slowed by a hamstring injury.

"We could continue to play him both ways, use him as the designated hitter, or not start him if we think he's not ready," Garrido said. "Regardless of whether Dante plays or not in this game, he's important to the team because of his leadership."

Garrido says he won't make the decision until just before game time, depending on Powell's status at that time.

"He wasn't as far along as we hoped he would be on Friday," Titan trainer Chris Mumaw said. "We couldn't afford to test his leg at full speed until then, but we knew when he hit that first ground ball it was still a problem."

Powell is still being treated for the injury, but Mumaw declined to speculate on whether he will be improved by game time. "We'll just have to wait and see now," he said.

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Normally, the two first-round losers play the early game in the College World Series today, but that game was moved to a later time to accommodate ESPN.

ESPN is carrying the Stanley Cup hockey playoffs live. The move allows the winners' bracket game between Georgia Tech and Florida State to be carried live. The Fullerton-LSU game will be broadcast on radio on KMNY-AM (1600).

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