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5/24/18 5:35 am CST

Good morning, Tiger Fans,

Little things – a missed double play, a failed bunt attempt – proved costly in a sloppy thriller of an SEC Baseball Tournament game that ended 4-3 Gators. In this year’s first meeting of the two perennial baseball powerhouses, one would have been hard-pressed to recognize it as a rematch of last year’s championship series due to six combined errors in the game – four by Florida and two by LSU. That said, it wasn’t without its highlights. A great catch at the wall by Antoine Duplantis, a two-out dinger by Jake Slaughter, a run-saving play by Brant Broussard, and a season-best performance by Cam Sanders on the mound gave Tiger fans plenty to cheer about. But in the end, it was a defensive web-gem by Florida’s Jonathan India, and a couple of missed opportunities by LSU, that sent LSU to the loser’s bracket of the tournament where they’ll face South Carolina at approximately 1 p.m. CT today, thirty minutes after the conclusion of the 9:30 a.m. CT contest between Georgia and Ole Miss. (See updated SEC Tournament bracket.)

Here’s a quick recap of how the it played out:

The Tigers jumped out to an early 3-0 lead when Jake Slaughter made Florida pay for a one-out error by ripping a two-run homer over the left field wall. The Tigers’ third run came when a second error by second baseman Blake Reese allowed Antoine Duplantis to reach first, a ball in the dirt allowed him to take second, and Daniel Cabrera’s RBI single brought him home. 

Like outstanding teams usually do, Florida responded quickly. A single and a walk in the bottom of the inning put Hilliard in a two-on, no-out jam, and an RBI single put the Gators on the board. A groundout that followed scored the Gator’s second run and would have likely scored another if not for an outstanding play by Brandt Broussard. That defensive gem would go for naught as Florida’s Jonathon India ripped an RBI single through the gap to make it a 3-3 game.  

The game would stay knotted up until the bottom of the fifth. After a walk and a one-out single put runners at first and second, a tailor-made inning-ending double play ball was hit to Slaughter at third, but he slipped when stepping on the bag and was only able to get one out. An RBI single followed to give Florida a 4-3 lead, and that would be all for Hilliard. Cam Sanders entered in a difficult situation with two outs and two on and got out of the jam with a groundout. 

The Tigers missed a golden opportunity in the eighth when Bain drew a leadoff walk and advanced on hot-hitting Cabrera’s single. That put LSU in an ideal situation to advance the runners into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt. Nick Coomes tried to do just that; only he popped up instead for an easy out. An ensuing groundout by Jordan would have scored a run had the bunt been executed, but instead, it advanced the runners into scoring position with two outs. Then came the key play of the game when Florida third baseman Jonathan India, who had committed two uncharacteristic errors earlier, reminded folks why he’s the SEC’s Player of the Year by robbing Slaughter of a hit that would have likely given LSU the lead.

Ma’Khail Hilliard got the start on the mound for the Tigers and gave up four runs on seven hits in 4.2 innings of work. It wasn’t a great night for the young freshman working on the biggest stage of his career, but it was for bullpen pitcher Cam Sanders who relieved him in the fifth. Sanders would go on to log 3.1 scoreless innings of one-hit ball, which not only kept LSU within striking distance but also saved several arms for today’s game. (See complete box score.)

Unfortunately, one pitcher who will not be available today is former Game 3 starter AJ Labas. According to reports, Coach Mainieri indicated last night that Labas is still experiencing shoulder soreness. As of now, there’s been no indication as to who will get the start, though I would consider Caleb Gilbert a strong candidate. 

Now for a trio of football tidbits to close out today’s daily dose:

• The Tiger Nation is still buzzing over the addition of graduate transfer quarterback Joe Burrow and what it could mean for the 2018 season, and understandably so. Everything I’ve read and seen about him is awfully impressive, including this newly posted YouTube video of every throw Burrow made as a freshman when he played in mop-up duty during Ohio State’s big win over No. 10 Nebraska. Burrow went 6-for-6 with 62 passing yards, 13 rushing yards, and a rushing touchdown in the game. What’s even more impressive than the numbers alone is his poise in the pocket and his quick, accurate throws. With LSU’s pass protection being among its biggest concerns in 2018, those attributes are great to see in a potential starting quarterback. 

• Sometimes its easy to forget that student-athletes are students first, and athletes second. As a means of keeping this reality in check, the NCAA monitors academic performance and retention among its member schools and calculates an annual Academic Progress Rate, which is often used to create incentives for coaches. Last year, LSU’s APR improved 18 points to 959, meeting the national average for other public institution football teams, according to NCAA documents. This year LSU’s rate improved to 963, which means Ed Orgeron gets a $75,000 bonus, according to a tweet by USA Today's Steve Berkowitz. According to Berkowitz, Orgeron gets the bonus if the team’s single-year APR is 960 or higher. 

• Lastly, here’s a heads up about our annual 100-Day Countdown to Game Day, which, believe it or not, gets underway tomorrow. We have topics chosen for 100-96 but we invite you to send suggestions for all the other numbers, especially 95-90. Your help is appreciated!

Have a great day, Tiger Fans.





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5/24/18 5:35 am CST

Good morning, Tiger Fans,

Little things – a missed double play, a failed bunt attempt – proved costly in a sloppy thriller of an SEC Baseball Tournament game that ended 4-3 Gators. In this year’s first meeting of the two perennial baseball powerhouses, one would have been hard-pressed to recognize it as a rematch of last year’s championship series due to six combined errors in the game – four by Florida and two by LSU. That said, it wasn’t without its highlights. A great catch at the wall by Antoine Duplantis, a two-out dinger by Jake Slaughter, a run-saving play by Brant Broussard, and a season-best performance by Cam Sanders on the mound gave Tiger fans plenty to cheer about. But in the end, it was a defensive web-gem by Florida’s Jonathan India, and a couple of missed opportunities by LSU, that sent LSU to the loser’s bracket of the tournament where they’ll face South Carolina at approximately 1 p.m. CT today, thirty minutes after the conclusion of the 9:30 a.m. CT contest between Georgia and Ole Miss. (See updated SEC Tournament bracket.)

Here’s a quick recap of how the it played out:

The Tigers jumped out to an early 3-0 lead when Jake Slaughter made Florida pay for a one-out error by ripping a two-run homer over the left field wall. The Tigers’ third run came when a second error by second baseman Blake Reese allowed Antoine Duplantis to reach first, a ball in the dirt allowed him to take second, and Daniel Cabrera’s RBI single brought him home. 

Like outstanding teams usually do, Florida responded quickly. A single and a walk in the bottom of the inning put Hilliard in a two-on, no-out jam, and an RBI single put the Gators on the board. A groundout that followed scored the Gator’s second run and would have likely scored another if not for an outstanding play by Brandt Broussard. That defensive gem would go for naught as Florida’s Jonathon India ripped an RBI single through the gap to make it a 3-3 game.  

The game would stay knotted up until the bottom of the fifth. After a walk and a one-out single put runners at first and second, a tailor-made inning-ending double play ball was hit to Slaughter at third, but he slipped when stepping on the bag and was only able to get one out. An RBI single followed to give Florida a 4-3 lead, and that would be all for Hilliard. Cam Sanders entered in a difficult situation with two outs and two on and got out of the jam with a groundout. 

The Tigers missed a golden opportunity in the eighth when Bain drew a leadoff walk and advanced on hot-hitting Cabrera’s single. That put LSU in an ideal situation to advance the runners into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt. Nick Coomes tried to do just that; only he popped up instead for an easy out. An ensuing groundout by Jordan would have scored a run had the bunt been executed, but instead, it advanced the runners into scoring position with two outs. Then came the key play of the game when Florida third baseman Jonathan India, who had committed two uncharacteristic errors earlier, reminded folks why he’s the SEC’s Player of the Year by robbing Slaughter of a hit that would have likely given LSU the lead.

Ma’Khail Hilliard got the start on the mound for the Tigers and gave up four runs on seven hits in 4.2 innings of work. It wasn’t a great night for the young freshman working on the biggest stage of his career, but it was for bullpen pitcher Cam Sanders who relieved him in the fifth. Sanders would go on to log 3.1 scoreless innings of one-hit ball, which not only kept LSU within striking distance but also saved several arms for today’s game. (See complete box score.)

Unfortunately, one pitcher who will not be available today is former Game 3 starter AJ Labas. According to reports, Coach Mainieri indicated last night that Labas is still experiencing shoulder soreness. As of now, there’s been no indication as to who will get the start, though I would consider Caleb Gilbert a strong candidate. 

Now for a trio of football tidbits to close out today’s daily dose:

• The Tiger Nation is still buzzing over the addition of graduate transfer quarterback Joe Burrow and what it could mean for the 2018 season, and understandably so. Everything I’ve read and seen about him is awfully impressive, including this newly posted YouTube video of every throw Burrow made as a freshman when he played in mop-up duty during Ohio State’s big win over No. 10 Nebraska. Burrow went 6-for-6 with 62 passing yards, 13 rushing yards, and a rushing touchdown in the game. What’s even more impressive than the numbers alone is his poise in the pocket and his quick, accurate throws. With LSU’s pass protection being among its biggest concerns in 2018, those attributes are great to see in a potential starting quarterback. 

• Sometimes its easy to forget that student-athletes are students first, and athletes second. As a means of keeping this reality in check, the NCAA monitors academic performance and retention among its member schools and calculates an annual Academic Progress Rate, which is often used to create incentives for coaches. Last year, LSU’s APR improved 18 points to 959, meeting the national average for other public institution football teams, according to NCAA documents. This year LSU’s rate improved to 963, which means Ed Orgeron gets a $75,000 bonus, according to a tweet by USA Today's Steve Berkowitz. According to Berkowitz, Orgeron gets the bonus if the team’s single-year APR is 960 or higher. 

• Lastly, here’s a heads up about our annual 100-Day Countdown to Game Day, which, believe it or not, gets underway tomorrow. We have topics chosen for 100-96 but we invite you to send suggestions for all the other numbers, especially 95-90. Your help is appreciated!

Have a great day, Tiger Fans.

5/23/18 5:35 am CST

Good morning, Tiger Fans,

Facing an elimination game in the SEC Tournament and the possibility of no LSU baseball in June, the Tigers rallied from three runs down to defeat Mississippi State, 8-5, in a thriller of a ballgame. Spurring the comeback was the strong relief pitching of Todd Peterson, the hot hitting of Antoine Duplantis, and an outstanding run-saving defensive play by Hal Hughes at shortstop. All in all, it was easily one of the grittiest wins of the season, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.

Through four innings, things looked grim for the Tigers. Starting pitcher Nick Bush flirted with trouble in each of his first two innings but somehow escaped unscathed before Mississippi State made him pay with two runs in the third. Coach Mainieri turned to his emergency plan in the fourth, bringing in Zack Hess in an attempt to keep the deficit at two runs until LSU’s bats could come alive. Well, things didn’t go as planned. Hess issued three walks in the inning and hit a batter before giving up a sac fly to make it a three-run game. The score would remain 3-0 through four-and-a-half innings before the Tigers’ fortunes would turn. Up until that point, LSU’s pitching troubles were matched by a Tiger offense that struggled against Mississippi State’s Konnor Pilkington and had only mustered one hit in 13 at-bats.

In the fifth inning, the comeback commenced. Nick Coomes’ leadoff single got things going before a walk and bunt single loaded the bases. Zach Watson’s sacrifice fly put the Tigers on the board, and then Duplantis’s clutch two-out RBI single made it a one-run game and chased Pilkington. State responded with a run in the top of the sixth before LSU tied it up in the bottom of the inning with two runs on singles by Daniel Cabrera and Nick Coomes, a sacrifice fly by Beau Jordan, and an RBI single by Brandt Broussard. After Devin Fontenot pitched a scoreless 1-2-3 frame in the seventh, LSU would tack on two more runs in the seventh. Back-to-back singles by Zach Watson and Duplantis and a one-out walk to Cabrera loaded the bases, and then a run scored when Jake Slaughter took a  pitch to the helmet. Coomes followed with a sac fly to make it 6-4 Tigers. Austin Bain, a.k.a. Bain Train, entered to pitch the eighth but was promptly derailed on three hits including an RBI double to make it a one-run game. Newfound closer Todd Peterson took over for Bain with two on and no outs and stepped up big-time, retiring the next three batters in order with the help of an outstanding run-saving defensive play by Hal Hughes at shortstop. The Tigers added two runs in the bottom of the eighth when Duplantis delivered a run-scoring triple and Bain belted an RBI single.

The crucial win advanced LSU to the double-elimination round of the SEC Tournament where they’ll face No. 1 Florida today, and almost certainly assured LSU an NCAA Tournament bid. With a 16-15 SEC record and 14 wins against Top 50 opponents, I don’t see how the selection committee could deny the Tigers. LSU can erase any sliver of doubt when they return to action today with Ma’Khail Hilliard on the mound to face the No. 1 Florida Gators. That game is tentatively scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. CT and will be televised on the SEC Network.

Turning to football, Athlon Sports has released its SEC Football 2018 All-Conference Team and five Tigers made the cut. Linebacker Devin White and cornerback Greedy Williams were named to the first team and were the Tigers’ only selections on the first or second teams. Offensive lineman Garrett Brumfield and defensive lineman Rashard Lawrence made the third team, while wide receiver Jonathan Giles was a fourth team selection. Personally, I think they’re sleeping big-time on Rashard Lawrence. 

In football recruiting news, five of Louisiana’s top prospects will treated to an all-expense paid week in Hawaii where they’ll participate in the annual Polynesian Bowl on January 19. The five include Amite defensive tackle Ishmael Sopsher (1), Baton Rouge offensive lineman Kardell Thomas (3), Amite wide receiver Devonta Lee (4), Kentwood wide receiver Trey Palmer (5), and New Orleans linebacker Donté Starks (8). (The numbers in parenthesis indicate these players’ rankings on our list of Top LA Prospects.) As reported here on 247Sports, the trip includes round-trip airfare from Louisiana to Oahu, Hawaii, six nights of hotel accommodations, all meals and local transportation, various apparel from Nike and Riddell, a Draft Luau with Polynesian NFL legends, and a Polynesian Football Hall of Fame celebration dinner. Congratulations to these guys on earning this trip of a lifetime! 

And speaking of Top Louisiana prospects, elite Edna Karr cornerback Devin Bush, No. 7 on our list of Top LA Prospects, announced a top-three yesterday of LSU, Tennessee and Clemson. Bush is expected to announce his school of choice this summer.

A few tidbits in closing:

• Here’s a good read by the Washington Post titled, “Why did Derrius Guice’s draft-night drop hurt so badly? Start back at ‘The Bottom.’”

• And here’s a statement issued by LSU about traffic and parking for those of you attending Dr. Billy Cannon’s funeral services today:

LSU ISSUES TRAFFIC AND PARKING NOTIFICATIONS FOR BILLY CANNON SERVICE

BATON ROUGE – LSU issued parking and traffic notifications to those coming to campus on Wednesday for Billy Cannon’s visitation and funeral service.

Dr. Cannon’s visitation and funeral will be held Wednesday, May 23 at the Maravich Center on the LSU campus and will be open to the public. Cannon, a Baton Rouge native and 1959 LSU graduate, passed away peacefully in his home early Sunday morning at the age of 80.

Visitation for Dr. Cannon will begin at noon at the Maravich Center and will continue until 2 p.m. The funeral will follow the visitation and run from 2 to 3 p.m. at the Maravich Center. Both events are open to the public.

The public will have free parking in lots located off of Nicholson Drive. The lots for the public to utilize include: Lots 101, 104, 105, 401 and 404. Due to road construction on Nicholson Drive, entry to lots 101 and 401 will either be from South Stadium Drive or South Quad Drive.

The public is reminded that Nicholson Drive is currently under construction around campus and that traffic is limited to one lane in each direction. Access to North Stadium Road via Nicholson Drive is also unavailable. 

LSU will provide a shuttle for those needing assistance. The pickup location for those needing assistance getting to the Maravich Center will be Lot 401 (located off South Stadium Drive).

LSU will be open to all traffic tomorrow beginning at 11 a.m. as the arm bars that restrict car access on campus will not be in use.

For more information on parking lot locations on campus, visit www.LSUsports.net/parking.

Reader Comments: Scott, this is Kenny Haynes from the LSU Greater Birmingham Alumni Chapter. I’m hoping you’ll let the DandyDon readers know of a popular sports bar in Hoover that our chapter supports: the Cajun Steamer Bar and Grill at 180 Main Street. They have lots of deals going on this week for the SEC Tournament and definitely want to reach our LSU friends!



 

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