I communicate with a lot of people around the Southeast – some who are reporters and others who are just warm-blooded sports fans.
They’re biased – much like I am at times.
But they all said the same thing this week about the LSU baseball team, which was that the Tigers didn’t have any quality wins and that the team was overrated in national polls.
For a lot of this past weekend’s series at Florida, it looked like my buddies were right, as LSU struggled mightily on Friday and Saturday, then fell behind big in Sunday’s game to set up what looked like a sweep for the Gators.
But right as the LSU fanbase reached that level that’s just north of panic, but just south of hysteria, the Tigers battled back.
LSU was down 6-2 in the eighth inning, but then picked up steam, scoring six runs in the eighth and then two more in the ninth to finish the tough series on a high note in a 10-6 win.
At that moment, a moment of epiphany sunk in.
This LSU baseball team is going to be OK.
History shows us that the Tigers NEVER play well in Gainesville. That ballpark has been like LSU Kryptonite – a place where LSU either gets swept or needs a little luck just to muster a game – regardless of how good their club is.
To steal that Sunday game was huge, because it keeps LSU “on schedule” in the SEC chase.
What I mean by that is simple. Coaches say that the goal of every series is to win two out of three games.
Well, after sweeping Georgia, the Tigers are now 4-2 – staying even with that 66 percent clip that all coaches strive for in the league.
More important than the outcomes of the games are a couple things that LSU showed over the weekend, which will loom large in the final months of the season.
The first thing is that the witch hunt regarding Alex Lange is overblown.
Folks, the guy is still an ace pitcher.
Yes, he had a few bad starts, but he’s still an ace pitcher who can get outs in June.
Relax. Take an Alleve. It will be OK.
The second is that the LSU bullpen misses Hunter Newman, but there are other guys back there capable of getting outs.
The Tigers’ bullpen was flawless on Sunday, allowing no hits over the final 13 outs of the game to close the door on Florida’s chances.
Caleb Gilbert is capable of being LSU’s closer while Newman is out. Nick Bush, Matthew Beck, Austin Bain and others are capable of bridging the gap to the late innings.
That’s a luxury a lot of teams don’t have.
And my third take is this: my friends are bozos.
The people in my circle predicted doom and gloom for the Tigers, but I just don’t see that scenario playing itself out.
The Tigers are 4-2 in league play, and they now have their toughest road trip in the rear view mirror.
There are far worse positions to be in.
Just ask Florida.
They’re 2-4 and are staring up at LSU – much like a lot of the other teams in the league.
(Editor’s note: I’ll be back Tuesday with an LSU-related Q&A. Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet me @casey_gisclair).