Dig Baton Rouge

The Sports Troll: Not great, but good enough to get by

The LSU baseball team wasn’t great this past weekend at the Baton Rouge Regional.
Hell, sometimes they weren’t even all that good, if we’re being 100 percent honest.
But they had enough juice to get by and move onto the Super Regional round – the Sweet 16.

And that’s all that matters.

The Regional was sort-of weird, wasn’t it? It had an odd feel about it, really from start to finish.

In the opening game, LSU played maybe its worst game of the season against Texas Southern – a slop fest riddled with errors, mental mistakes and other miscues.
But the Tigers got by, because, quite frankly, Texas Southern is not a good college baseball team – the type of team that LSU can beat literally 99 times out of 100 just purely on talent and coaching alone.

Texas Southern doesn’t have the arms to beat LSU and they just can’t put together enough quality at-bats to score the 12-15 runs they’d need to overcome their pitching deficiencies.

LSU kicked the ball around the park at the most inopportune times to make it interesting for about 90 minutes but in the end, the cream rose to the top and it was a lopsided game.

I thought coming out of that awful performance that the Tigers would dust Southeastern Louisiana the next night without any drama at all.

Instead, ace Alex Lange stumbled out of the gates and allowed five runs in the first two innings before regaining his footing.

The Tigers did pull away in the middle innings, yes.

But it was the type of game that literally no one expected to see with two quality pitchers on the mound.

After seeing the ball jump out of The Box on Saturday, I thought LSU would score 10+ runs on Sunday against Rice’s depleted pitching staff. Couple that with true freshman Eric Walker making his first postseason start and I expected a bit of a shootout.

It wasn’t.

The Tigers’ red-hot bats cooled and Walker was unbelievably good, leading to a 5-0 Tigers win.

Wild weekend, indeed.

But the most important thing in tournament play is winning and earning the right to play another day and LSU did exactly that this past weekend, rolling into the Super Regionals with a huge winning streak and loads of confidence.

The Tigers will take on Mississippi State in the Super Regionals – a dicey matchup because it will pit LSU coach Paul Mainieri against Bulldogs coach Andy Cannizaro against one another in a high-stakes environment.

Of course, folks remember that Cannizaro was LSU’s hitting coach and he left the team late in the offseason to take over the program in Starkville.

The Tigers swept Mississippi State during the season, but they’ll now be facing a team that’s white hot, having won four games in a row after losing the first game of the Hattiesburg regional, including two-straight wins over the host, Southern Miss, on Monday afternoon and then night.

The Bulldogs will be tough. I think this is an awfully tough matchup for LSU.
It’s hard to beat any SEC team five times in a season, but that’s what the Tigers are going to be asked to do with three wins under their belts already on the campaign against Mississippi State.

But then again, at this stage in the game, to ask for easy would probably be a little bit much.

This weekend ought to be a great series.

The Tigers just better play a little bit better than they did in the Regional if they want to live to see another day.

Photo by Sean Gasser.


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