Dig Baton Rouge

The Sports Troll: Zack Hess is joking right now, right?

Did I ever tell you guys about this one time when I won the lottery?

It was a big pot, too. If memory serves, it was something like $264 million.

I checked my ticket, every number matched and it was a feeling of euphoria.

I got dressed, hopped in my car and drove to the Powerball headquarters. When I got there, I pushed open the door and then …


Next thing I remember, I was laying in my bed with drool dripping off my lip.

Of course, it was all a dream. It had to be. I don’t even play the lottery.

That’s what happens in life.

Yes, great things happen to people all of the time, but by and large, when something sounds like it’s too good to be true, it usually is.

Which brings me to LSU freshman pitcher Zack Hess.

When watching Hess pitch on Friday afternoon against Oregon State – dominating the Beavers to earn the save, my initial thought wasn’t about tomorrow’s game, nor what lies ahead.
I immediately thought, instead, about my dream about the lottery.

Surely, I’m about to wake up again, right?

Surely, this guy can’t possibly be THIS good.

Of course, I say that all with a bit of a tongue in cheek approach, but this obviously is reality and not some sort of crazy dream (at least I think), but Hess’ emergence still does confuse me nonetheless.

How in the hell did LSU get this guy to enroll on a college campus?

He’s big, tall, strong and has a fastball that approaches the upper 90s.

His hook is filthy and hitters can’t hit it.

When he’s on, he’s literally unhittable – one of the most dominant pitchers LSU baseball has ever seen.

Why was he not a high-round MLB Draft pick last year – the type of guy picked so high that he can’t possibly turn down the money and go to school?

I’ll never understand, but LSU will take it and as it stands, the Tigers are now just one win away from making it to the Championship Series, which begins on Monday night.

The Tigers beat Oregon State once, yes, but beating them twice will be awfully hard because there will be no Alex Lange to lean on tomorrow.

LSU will instead give the ball to Caleb Gilbert – a soft-tossing strike thrower who has good stuff, but who has been hit or miss in his career.

To me, I think timing is everything for LSU tomorrow to have a chance to win.

The Tigers need Gilbert to go about four or five quality innings. A little more would be nice, but that’s being greedy.

After that, LSU needs one guy to step up to work two or three innings to get the ball to Hess in a manageable situation.

Will it be Jared Poche’ in super short rest for an inning or two?


Will it be Nick Bush?


But for my dollar, I think it has to be Hunter Newman.

Newman was LSU’s closer throughout the season – an awfully good one at that.

But since Hess emerged and took his job, it’s like Newman is trying too hard on the mound to be something that he’s not.

With another possible shot at the Beavers on Saturday, the fate of the team may well be in his hands.

And if it is and he comes through, that would be an awesome story for a high-character senior player who could use a feel-good feeling in Omaha.

Aside from pitching, of course, LSU needs to have some quality at-bats tomorrow to have a chance.

Right now, LSU’s offense is unbalanced.

The top of the order guys aren’t doing squat, which isn’t putting enough runners on base for the guys like Deichmann and Watson.

LSU cannot win this World Series without Kramer Robertson and Cole Freeman.
They just can’t.

The duo is 3-of-32 in the College World Series – and neither has really had many quality at-bats during the four games in Omaha.

I get it. It’s baseball. Stuff happens sometimes.

But when you put a bulls-eye on yourself like Robertson has with the hair, the cleats and everything else, you’d better back it up in between the white lines.

Here’s to hoping that tomorrow is a big day for both.

LSU needs it.

They probably can’t move on without it.

Photo: Zack Hess by Sean Gasser.


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