LSU coach Paul Mainieri needs to say only two words to remind his team about the pitfalls of celebrating a Game 1 victory in the College World Series finals: Fresno State.
The Tigers are within a win of clinching their sixth national title after defeating No. 1 seed Texas 7-6 in 11 innings on Monday night. Game 2 is Tuesday night.
"I think they understand that we haven't won anything yet," Mainieri said.
Since the CWS' structure changed to include a best-of-three finals after bracket play, three of the six have gone the distance.
Last year, Fresno State lost the opener to Georgia and was down five runs in the third inning of Game 2 before rallying for a 19-10 win. The Bulldogs won the deciding game 6-1.
Texas (49-15-1) came from behind to win its first three CWS games this year, including two walk-off victories. And the Longhorns have become explosive, hitting 11 home runs in Omaha after coming to town with just 39 in their first 61 games.
"We're drilling it in their heads that we didn't play for the national championship tonight," Mainieri said. "Going into this game, everybody kept saying you're going to play for the national championship. No, we didn't. We needed to win a game before we were going to play for the national championship.
"Now we get to say we're playing for the national championship. Wow, those are pretty cool words, actually."
The Tigers won on Mikie Mahtook's RBI single in the top of the 11th, which came after DJ LeMahieu had tied the game 6-all in the ninth with a two-run double.
LeMahieu walked leading off the 11th against Brandon Workman (3-4), stole second with two outs and took third when catcher Cameron Rupp's throw went into center field.
Mahtook delivered his winning hit after struggling his first four at-bats. He required intravenous fluids to treat cramps in the sixth inning, and he struck out three times and hit into a double play. He punched a single into right field in the 10th before facing Workman in the 11th.
"My first three at-bats, it wasn't like I just struck out. It was three terrible at-bats. I was chasing balls in the dirt," Mahtook said. "I stayed back on a change-up and bounced into a double play. When I got into the dugout, guys were telling me to make sure I keep my head straight. Jared Mitchell told me I was going to come back up again with a big at-bat, and you're going to come through for us. That helped me out a lot."
Matty Ott (4-2) struck out Brandon Loy and Tim Maitland and got Connor Rowe to ground out to finish off Texas, which had walkoff wins in two of its first three CWS games.
"It has to happen some time. We can't have all the glorious game-ending victories," said Russell Moldenhauer, who hit two of Texas' homers. "We've got to throw that aside and come back with the same feeling we had at the beginning of this game."
The Tigers, who won their 14th straight, came back from deficits of 3-1 and 6-4. LeMahieu hit the tying, two-out double in the top of the ninth off Austin Dicharry. LeMahieu and Ryan Schimpf also homered for the Tigers.
Texas, trying to become the first No. 1 national seed since Miami in 1999 to win the championship, continued its show of power.
All three of Moldenhauer's homers this season have come in the CWS. He was one of three Longhorns to go deep in the fourth inning, and he broke a 3-3 tie in the sixth with his opposite-field shot to left.
Travis Tucker and Kevin Keyes also homered in the fourth, and Rowe did it in the seventh.
"How do I explain it? We're not playing at Disch-Falk. That field just swallows the ball," Moldenhauer said of Texas' home stadium. "We're at a little bit smaller ballpark, and that has helped out the offense."
Over a span of 6 1-3 innings, from their previous game against Arizona State to Monday's match-up with LSU, seven of the Longhorns' 11 hits were home runs.
Texas is the first team since LSU in 1998 to homer three times in an inning at the CWS. All five Texas homers were solo shots off LSU starter Louis Coleman.
"It was great to see the rest of the team pick up Coleman," Mainieri said. "He felt he let his team down. The balls were flying out of the ballpark. I'm not saying they were cheap. But if you got the ball up in the air today, it had a chance to go out."