BATON ROUGE - One was a freshman pitching sensation while the other is his team's most versatile player; outfielder, slugger, pitcher.
For Louisiana State University sophomore pitcher A.J. Labas, a former Lakeside Junior High School standout before winning a Class 4A title with Trinity Christian, the 2019 season that followed a standout freshman year was relegated to the injury roster after shoulder surgery.
For Florida State University junior outfielder/relief pitcher Flowers, who excelled at Oakleaf Junior High School and Oakleaf High School in both football and baseball before heading to Trinity Christian as well, his Seminoles have used his elusive base speed, superb outfield radar and rocket fastball arm to ride into the College Baseball World Series on Sunday after winning two games against top seed LSU.
On Sun., June 9, both teams were locked at 4-4 into the ninth inning with Flowers awaiting a call from the pitcher's bullpen to end the decisive game that would send the Seminoles to the NCAA College World Series.
In the 12th inning, FSU hitter Drew Mendoza hit an RBI single to win the game 4-3 and put FSU coach Mike Martin into his 17th World Series in 40 years. Martin is expected to retire at season's end.
Third seeded FSU won the Athens regional double elimination series with a 10-1 win over top seed Georgia. FSU beat Georgia in their game one meet 12-3 after beating second seed FAU 13-7.
LSU, the top seed in the Baton Rouge regional beat fourth seed Stony Brook 17-3 to face third seed Southern Mississippi with 8-4 and 6-4 wins to advance to the super region. FSU won the first super region game with LSU 6-4.
Labas came to LSU in 2018 with a 25-4 high school career mark, a 9-0 record and a 0.50 earned runs average for 65 innings.
In his freshman year at LSU, Labas pitched in 13 games (10 starts), recording a 6-2 mark and a 3.48 ERA in 54.1 innings with seven walks and 32 strikeouts. He was named SEC Freshman of the Week on May 7 after defeating fourth-ranked Arkansas – the SEC's No. 1 offensive team – on May 6 with a brilliant effort, limiting the Razorbacks to one run on four hits in six innings with no walks and three strikeouts. Labas was named a Freshman All-American by Collegiate Baseball newspaper and was drafted in the 2017 draft by the New York Mets in the 17th round.
Flowers, who started 67 of 69 games as a freshman with 32 RBIs and 44 runs scored, 2018 was shortened by a broken jaw that limited Flowers to 36 games where he hit .218 with 14RBIs.
For 2019, Flowers is hitting at .273 with 13 homers and 11 doubles with 53 RBIs to add to the Seminoles top four hitters all over 50 RBIs.
On the mound, Flowers holds a 1.40 ERA in mainly relief appearances with 12 games saved in 21 appearances.