5/25/18 5:45 am CST
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
If there was any doubt whether LSU had earned an NCAA Tournament bid, the Tigers put it to rest yesterday with a bizarre 6-4 twelve-inning win over South Carolina that epitomizes the expression, “Baseball is a funny game!” Raise your hand if you had All-American Zach Watson misplaying a ball in center to cost LSU a ninth-inning lead and pitcher Todd Peterson hitting a two-run double in the 12th to give LSU a three-run lead. Right!
As Coach Mainieri said after the game, the legend of Todd Peterson was born in Hoover, Alabama, and it won’t soon be forgotten. After playing the role of heroic closer in LSU’s win over Mississippi State two days prior, Peterson topped it by not only earning a win on the mound but by giving the Tigers two insurance runs in the 12th with a booming two-run double off the base of the left-field wall in his first and only collegiate at-bat. To top it off, Peterson strutted back out to the mound in the bottom of the 12th for his career-long fifth inning of work and made a run-saving defensive play on a hard comebacker to help secure the Tigers’ win. Folks, you can’t make this stuff up!
Here’s how it played out:
The Tigers jumped out to a 2-0 lead after catching a couple of breaks in the second. The first came after Beau Jordan’s two-out walk when what should have been an inning-ending popup by Hal Hughes somehow found the grass in shallow center field. Brandy Broussard followed with a walk to load bases and then Watson beat out an infield single to put the Tigers on the board. The second break came in the form of a bases-loaded balk to make it 2-0 Tigers.
After cruising through three shutout, one-hit innings, starter Caleb Gilbert hit a brick wall in the fourth. A double sandwiched in between two hit batsmen loaded the bases, and then a sac fly made it a one-run game. Austin Bain entered in relief with two on and one out and got the Tigers out of the jam with two fly outs. He induced four more consecutive fly outs before one left the yard in the sixth to make it a tie ballgame.
LSU missed a golden opportunity to regain the lead in the seventh when Jake Slaughter led with a double and the next two batters were unable to advance him. An infield single by Broussard did eventually move him to third, but a strikeout by Watson ended the threat.
The Tigers’ third run came in the eighth on a play that required two official reviews. Antoine Duplantis led with a single and advanced on a wild pitch. Another wild pitch on ball four to Bain moved Duplantis to third and put Tigers at the corners. Feduccia’s shallow fly out to right field plated a run thanks to fantastic slide by Duplantis who evaded the tag at home on a bang-bang play. Duplantis was first ruled out, but an official review showed that he slid under the tag. A second review confirmed that he didn’t leave third base too soon on the tag-up.
LSU entered the bottom of the ninth needing three outs to win, and that’s when something truly bizarre happened – Zach Watson misplayed a line drive to center that sailed over his head for a leadoff triple. A one-out single that followed knotted the game at 3-3 and sent it to extras.
After the game eclipsed the four-hour mark, LSU finally broke through for three runs in the twelfth. Much will be said about Peterson’s 2-RBI double, and rightfully so, but the go-ahead run actually came in the at-bat before when Cabrera lined an RBI single up the middle after Duplantis had reached on an error and Bain had walked. That made it 4-3 Tigers and set the stage for Peterson to come to bat. You see, LSU had already lost its designated hitter option when Austin Bain, who had pitched earlier, moved from designated hitter to first base. When Peterson stepped up to the plate, most expected him to be taking all the way, but he had other ideas. Instead, Peterson connected on a 1-2 breaking ball and brought the Tiger crowd (and viewing audience) to its feet by sending it to the wall. 6-3, Tigers!
LSU would limit the South Carolina to one run in the bottom of the 12th, thanks in part to a solid defensive play by Peterson on a hard hit “comebacker” with a runner on third.
Peterson’s 2-RBI Double | Complete box score
With the win, the Tigers advance to the quarterfinal round of the SEC Tournament where they’ll play the loser of this morning’s game between Florida and Arkansas. Here’s the complete SECT Bracket.
Onto softball news, LSU opens NCAA Super Regional play this evening when they travel to challenge a 50-win Florida State team that, as Beth Torina put it, has rightfully earned the No. 6 seed. This formidable Seminoles squad features the ACC Player of the Year (Jessie Warren), ACC Pitcher of the Year (Kylee Hanson) and ACC Freshman of the Year (Sydney Sherrill). Warren and Sherrill are each hitting close to .400 on the season, while Hanson has held teams down with a 1.00 ERA and 226 strikeouts this season. But LSU has a couple of arms that can match her. As a team, LSU averages a 1.41 ERA, which is the ninth best in the country. Allie Walljasper has proven yet again this season that she’s one of the best pitchers in college softball, while Carly Hoover returned to form in the regional after missing a couple of weeks with an injury. LSU and Florida State are familiar with one another, as the two squads met in last year’s Super Regional. After losing the first game, LSU rallied to win the next two to earn the school’s sixth trip to the College World Series. Let’s hope a similar result plays out this weekend. The Tigers and Seminoles will get things started tonight at 6 p.m. on ESPNU.
Believe it or not, today marks 100 days until the start of the 2018 season, and that means it's time for our annual daily countdown, celebrating each day with a corresponding number of historical LSU football significance. We’ll kick things off with a look at former coach Les Miles’ 100th victory, which occurred in Gainesville with the Tigers winning a wild 30-27 decision on Colby Delahoussaye's 50-yard field goal with three seconds remaining.
Miles was involved in several weird and wacky games in his 11+ years at LSU, and this was indeed one to remember. The game featured four lead changes in the final 10 minutes after LSU had trailed 17-7. Rickey Jefferson set up the game-winning play when he intercepted a tipped Florida pass and made a nice return when it seemed Florida might drive for the winning points at home. LSU also had to survive some classic Les Miles clock management at the end. The game breathed life into a Tiger team that had been thumped by Auburn, 41-7, the week before, and touched off a three-game winning streak.
The win also marked a shift for the team at three key positions. Anthony Jennings took over at quarterback from Brandon Harris for the remainder of the season, while Kendell Beckwith and Leonard Fournette each made their first career starts that night. Beckwith had six tackles to finally ignite a strong career. Fournette prospered with 140 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 27 carries, trucking a couple of Florida defenders along the way, as seen in this video. But the night belonged to Delahoussaye, who had never kicked a game-winner in college and had never hit from 50-yards. On this night he did both, leaving an otherwise raucous Gator crowd in silent disbelief and giving Miles, a.k.a. The Mad Hatter, his 100th win as a Tiger. Relive that memorable moment in this Youtube video.
Last year, LSU struggled mightily on Special Teams, especially in field goal kicking, and would have been hard-pressed to pull off any game-winner like the one on that particular night. How LSU addresses that issue this spring with the return of Connor Culp and Jack Gonsoulin plus the addition of graduate transfer kicker Cole Tracy, preferred walk-on kicker Avery Atkins, and a new Special Teams Coordinator Greg McMahon will be something to watch this preseason.
Sticking to the topic of football, Saints quarterback J.T. Barrett spoke at the Touchdown Club of New Orleans' annual crawfish boil for rookies earlier his week and had great things to say about his former teammate, quarterback Joe Burrow. “He’s really smart, tough, willing to do anything it takes to win, and he slings the ball,” Barrett is quoted as saying in this report by nola.com. According to author Josh Katzenstein, Barrett mentioned Burrow’s intelligence three times in the two minutes he discussed his former teammate. “He’s very smart, so he’ll be able to grasp the offense pretty fast," he said. "At the end of the day, I think he'll be able to make the plays to win.”
Now that we’ve given you nearly 1600 words in this long-winded daily dose, it’s time for me to hit the road for an annual ritual of sorts that I’ve been eagerly awaiting. Each year at this time, I ride up top my old family home in North Louisiana to dig the potatoes I planted in early spring, and while there I get in an obligatory fishing trip. With any luck, I’ll have a few pics to share, and maybe a story to tell, later this weekend.
Have a great day, Tiger Fans.