5/29/17 5:50 am CST
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
The first thing I’d like to do is wish all of you a Happy Memorial Day and ask that you take a moment to remember family members, loved ones, neighbors, and friends who have given the ultimate sacrifice to protect our freedom and our country. Let us never forget that today’s holiday is not simply about a day off of work or a family barbecue, but is a special occasion meant to honor the countless military men and women who bravely gave their lives protecting the freedoms we enjoy each and every day.
Now, with that said, how about those Fighting Tiger teams – baseball and softball! In one glorious Championship Sunday, Coach Paul Mainieri’s Tigers earned their third championship of the season and Coach Beth Torina’s Tigers punched their ticket to Oklahoma City! We’ll tackle each of those topics today, in that order. Here we go…
The LSU baseball team put a great big exclamation mark on what has been an incredible five weeks of baseball by defeating Arkansas, 4-2, to earn the title of SEC Tournament Champions. The tournament championship is LSU’s 12th of all time and sixth under head coach Paul Mainieri. The win also marked the Tigers’ 11th straight victory and 16th in the last 17 SEC contests. Of course, what makes all of this all the more remarkable is where LSU found itself just a little over a month ago – at 27-15 overall and 10-8 in SEC play. To all of you who never stopped believing, and to those of you who did but never stopped following, my sincere thanks.
In yesterday’s game, freshman Eric Walker turned in an outstanding performance that should inspire confidence not only in the Tigers’ chances of success in the NCAA tournament but in the next two seasons as well. Walker threw a season-high 116 pitches in 7.2 innings and limited the Razorbacks’ high-powered offense to just one run (a solo homer) on five hits. While doing so, he tallied a season-high eight strikeouts. Things did get a little tense (to put it lightly) after Walker’s stint, especially when closer Hunter Newman issued two free passes in the ninth before intentionally walking Arkansas power hitter Chad Spanberger to put the winning run on first base. By that time, I had gnawed off most of my nails and my inbox was starting to light up with messages from a few folks I hadn’t heard from in a while. Things worked out, though, as Newman induced a ground ball that ended the game and sent the team rushing to the middle of the field for a dog-pile celebration of another incredible day in Hoover.
Offensively, the Tigers couldn’t match the firepower they exhibited in the previous two games, but a strong fourth inning proved to be enough. Trailing 1-0, the Tigers erupted for three runs on hits by Kramer Robertson, Antoine Duplantis, and Josh Smith, a bases loaded walk by Nick Coomes, and a sac fly by Beau Jordan. The Tigers added another run in the sixth when Duplantis roped a double into right field, advanced to third on heads-up base running and scored on Coomes’ sac fly. All told, the Tigers collected only six hits on the day but were 4-for-5 (.800) with runners on third and less than two out, and 1-for-2 (.500) with bases loaded.
Here are the game’s video highlights and complete box score.
After the game, the All-SEC tournament team was announced, and, as you would expect, LSU was well represented. Tigers who made the team include Alex Lange, Cole Freeman, Kramer Robertson, Greg Deichmann and Antoine Duplantis. Earning the team’s MVP honor was Arkansas’s Chad Spanberger, the guy LSU intentionally walked in the ninth. To those of you who’ve asked if I support the decision to walk him, my answer is a whole-hearted yes.
In other expected news, LSU was selected as one of 16 regional host sites for the NCAA Tournament. The Tigers will find out whether they will be a top-8 national seed and who will be coming to the Baton Rouge Regional when the pairings are announced today during ESPN2’s Selection Show at 11 a.m. I fully expect LSU to earn its sixth consecutive national seed, which is flat-out remarkable.
Please note that the deadline for LSU season ticket holders to purchase their NCAA Regional tickets is 5 pm CT today (Monday, May 29). Season ticket holders can do so by logging on to their accounts at www.LSUtix.net. All-session ticket books will go on sale to the general public at 8 am on Thursday.
Turning to softball, what can you say about Coach Beth Torina and her Fighting Tigers? As you probably know already, LSU’s ladies defeated Florida State, 6-4, to advance to the program’s third-straight trip to the Women’s College World Series. Here’s a full recap of the game. What you might not know is that this marks the Tigers’ fourth college world series appearance in the six years Coach Torina has been a Tiger. What an outstanding hire she has proven to be! As for this Tiger team, they embodied the Fighting Tiger spirit to the highest degree by winning five NCAA elimination games to get to this point, including back-to-back wins in Tallahassee against a Florida State team that was undefeated at home. Simply incredible! Next up, LSU will face UCLA in the opening game of the WCWS on Thursday. Game time and television coverage will be announced soon.
Now, since this update is already nearly 1,000 words long, we’ll continue our countdown to LSU football’s season opener – which is 96 days away – with two brief topics that aren’t exactly directly related to LSU football. The first is this historical reminder that LSU’s first truly great football team, and the first to use the nickname “Fighting Tigers” was back in 1896. I thought this was especially appropriate for Memorial Day since the most accepted origin of the name dates back to the “Louisiana Tigers,” which was the name of a regiment in the Civil War made famous in the Valley of the Shenandoah. The second topic I want to briefly mention for No. 96 is the year 1996, which some of you might know is the year this site began as a simple birthday gift from me to my father, “Dandy” Don Long. Nearly 21 years later, the site is still going strong, thanks to your valued readership and support. I want to take this opportunity to thank you for allowing my Dad’s writing, and now mine, to be a part of your daily life, and for giving me a platform to share an occasional personal tidbit like the one below.
Lagniappe: As if two championships in LSU sports wasn’t enough, yesterday was made all the more rewarding for me when I harvested this year’s crop of corn from my small garden. If any of you fellow gardeners out there are interested, I’ve posted pics of my 80-ear harvest. Looks like Corn Maque Choux and Corn and Crab Bisque are in my future!