NCAA Baseball Championships:
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3/20/13 6:05 am CT
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
It was a good night for LSU sports as both the baseball team and men’s basketball team came away with wins. Let’s approach this is chronological order and start with the baseball game first.
After only collecting 14 hits in three games against Vanderbilt, LSU’s bats came alive and produced nine runs on nine hits en route to a 9-0 win over South Alabama. Of course, the South Alabama’s pitching staff is not of the same caliber as Vanderbilt’s (whose is?), but it was good to see LSU build some offensive momentum heading into this weekend’s SEC series against Georgia.
The Tigers were led at the plate by Kade Scivicque who went 3-for-3 with a homer and two RBI. Jared Foster also had a big night at the plate and came through with a big 3-RBI pinch-hit standup double in the sixth. Coach Mainieri was very high on Foster at the beginning of the season and spoke often of his potential. It was good to see it on display last night.
Cody Glenn got the start for LSU and pitched two scoreless innings while allowing three hits. Going into the game we knew that Glenn would only go two innings as he will be called upon again to start this Sunday against Georgia. Glenn got himself into a jam in the second inning by giving up back to back singles, but was able to get out of it unscathed, thanks to a great defensive play by Kramer Robinson. Eight (yes, eight) LSU bullpen pitchers combined for seven innings to keep South Alabama off the board. The shutout was the Tigers pitching staff’s eighth of the season.
Here’s a brief scoring summary: The Tigers took a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning on Scivicque’s second home run of the year. Conner Hale led off the fifth with a double, and a throwing error on a sacrifice bunt from Christian Ibarra moved Hale to third. Jake Fraley then hit a sacrifice fly to plate Hale to make it 2-0. LSU erupted for seven runs in the sixth inning to push the lead to 9-0. With runners on second and third, Scivicque singled through the left side to score Mark Laird. Andrew Stevenson followed with a single to left-centerfield to score Bregman. With the bases loaded, Foster entered the game as a pinch hitter and hit a three-run double down the left field line. With two outs, Sean McMullen laced an RBI double to left field to plate Foster. Pinch hitter Chris Sciambra reached on a fielding error by the pitcher, and McMullen scored on the play.
LSU (18-4, 1-2 SEC) plays host to Georgia (14-8, 1-2 SEC) this weekend at Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field for the first home SEC series of the year. First pitch on Friday is set for 7 p.m. and the game will be televised on Cox Sports Television. Fans can also listen to the game on the LSU Sports Radio Network (98.1 FM in Baton Rouge).
In basketball news, LSU advanced in postseason play with an impressive 71-63 win over San Francisco in the opening round of the NIT. The win marked the Tigers’ first postseason win since 2008, and the first of what will hopefully be many 20-win seasons by Coach Johnny Jones.
The Tigers outplayed the Dons much of the first half, thanks in large part to an outstanding effort by Jarrell Martin, but USF kept it close by out-rebounding the Tigers 20-18, including seven offensive boards. At the break, the Tigers led by three, 33-30. In the second half, the Tigers pulled away with strong inside play and excellent 3-point shooting, and led by as many as 16 before a 13-4 USF run cut the lead to only six with 2:05 remaining. That was as close as the Dons would get.
Jarell Martin led the Tigers in scoring with 16 points, and all but two came in the first half. Johnny O'Bryant and Shavon Coleman each added 13. LSU shot 46% from the field, 36% from three-point range, and 68% from the free throw line, while holding the normally efficient Dons to only 13% shooting from behind the arc and only 41.5% from the field.
With the win, LSU advances to face No. 1 seed SMU in Dallas Monday night at 8 p.m. CT. I know there’s a large contingency of Tiger Fans in the Dallas area, and I hope they’ll turn out en masse to support the Tigers.
Now turning to LSU football, the Tigers will return to the practice field today and I look forward to riding out there to see how they’ve progressed since last week. Of course, I’ll bring my video camera so that I can give you a few minutes of video to go along with a brief report tomorrow. At this time of year, Tiger Fans just can’t get enough football news, so I’ll do my best to make the trip out there from Lafayette as often as my schedule allows.
Three football-related tid-bits before moving on:
• ESPN’s Edward Aschoff has named LSU WR Travin Dural as one of five SEC West Breakout Players for 2014. And I agree. Dural has the speed and athleticism to be the Tigers’s go-to receiver this year. What he doesn’t have is a whole heck of a lot of experience, but then again none of LSU’s receivers do.
• The locker room in Tiger Stadium is currently undergoing a complete renovation and all of the old lockers from 1996-2013 are being sold to the public as part of a fundraising effort. If you have $3,950 to spare, this would make a great addition to your man-cave or gameroom. For more information or to purchase a locker, please visit www.tigerstadiumlockers.net.
• I updated out Ticket Exchange page last night while watching the basketball game, and there are a few new listings for football tickets.
In other news, two former Tigers have been freed from their legal entanglements as Jeremy Hill’s probation was terminated yesterday, and former LSU baseball signee Dylan Williams was exonerated on a series of drug and gun possession charges. Although Hill’s probation wasn’t set to expire until July 2015, attorney Marci Blaize asked state District Judge Mike Erwin to release the former Tiger tailback from his court supervision since he had already completed the conditions of his probation. Judge Erwin obliged. As for Williams, you might remember him as the hot-shot pitcher who signed with LSU but then never enrolled because he was present at the residence of Christopher Lee Willingham when illegal narcotics, a large amount of marijuana and a firearm were seized. Earlier this week, charges against Williams were dropped after Willingham testified that Williams and two of his teammates had no involvement whatsoever in the illegal activity and were at his residence by mere coincidence. This spring Williams has been pitching at Georgia Perimeter College (JUCO) and has been doing very well as part of their starting rotation. So well, in fact, that he will probably go straight to the MLB this June rather than ever playing at LSU.
Reader Comments: Scott, in case you missed it, here's an updated article about LSU’s future football schedules.
3/19/14 5:25 am CT
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
Well, even though the change of seasons is officially one day away, spring-like temperatures have begun returning to Louisiana and this evening should be a great one for watching the LSU baseball team return to action when they host South Alabama at 6:30 (Cox Sports Television). And with any luck, the game will be over in time for you to watch the LSU men’s basketball team begin postseason play when they battle San Francisco at 9 p.m. CT on ESPNU. We’ll get to both of those games in just a bit, but first a quick word about football.
The LSU football team kicked off the second week of practice yesterday, and from what I gather there was an interesting new twist. In addition to the ever-popular Big Cat drill, the team worked on a new goal-line tackle drill where three offensive players lineup across three defensive players and try to get the ball into the end zone without being stopped. According to this article by NOLA.com, which includes a video, junior middle linebacker D.J. Welter highlighted the drill with a big stop against fullback Melvin Jones. Kendell Beckwith, who is also competing at middle linebacker, did not participate in the contact drills and was wearing a green jersey. There’s been no word on his injury.
As for the quarterbacks that we’ve been keeping close tabs on, I was told that the arms of Brandon Harris and Hayden Rettig were noticeably stronger than Anthony Jennings’ during yesterday’s deep routes. As for the receivers, Avery Peterson’s hamstring is still bothering him too much to practice, but Kevin Spears was present and participating.
Now turning to baseball, LSU will be looking to get back on the winning track tonight when they take on a South Alabama team that’s better than many may realize. South Alabama took two-out-of-three against Arkansas at Fayetteville a couple of weeks ago, and actually has a very strong baseball tradition. LSU and South Alabama have played 38 times since 1971, and the Jaguars lead the series, 24-14. Tonight’s game marks the first meeting between the schools since the 1997 NCAA South I Regional in Baton Rouge, when the Tigers defeated the Jaguars twice on the regional’s final day to advance to the College World Series. The schools met seven times in NCAA Regional games from 1989 through 1997, and LSU posted a 5-2 mark in those contests.
Coach Paul Mainieri has decided to start junior left-hander Cody Glenn (1-1) in tonight’s game, while South Alabama will counter with senior right-hander Matt Bell (2-2). This will be a big game for Glenn, as he’s struggled lately and really needs a confidence booster tonight. In Game 3 against Vanderbilt, Glenn came in out of the bullpen and hit the first batter he faced to load the bases, and then walked the second batter on four pitches to allow a run. Glenn will likely only pitch a couple of innings tonight because there’s a chance he’ll be used as the starter on Sunday against Georgia as Kyle Bouman injured his ankle in Monday’s practice and might not be ready to go by then.
As soon as the game is over, I’ll be turning my attention to the LSU basketball team as they begin postseason play against the Dons of San Francisco at 9 p.m. CT on ESPNU. The game ought to be a competitive one as there are lots of similarities between the No. 5 seed Tigers and the No. 4 seed Dons. Both teams have had issues on defense and rely more heavily on their offense, neither are great from the free throw line, and both have multiple players who can put up points in a hurry. Four of San Francisco’s starters average in double figures, led by senior Cole Dickerson at 14.8 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. If the Tigers win tonight’s game, they will go on to face the winner of top seed SMU and eighth-seed UC-Irvine at some point between Friday and Monday. Of course if they lose, that’s it. The NIT is a single-elimination tournament.
Reader Comments: A friend of mine said he heard Roy King, LSU Tiger Band Director, on the radio with Bobby Hebert talking about their trip to Ireland. Supposedly Roy told a story of how a former LSU football player (Ralph McIngvale) heard Tiger Band was over 100K short of paying for their trip and he paid the difference. I think this is the sort of thing Tiger Fans need to hear about so we can appreciate our former players that give back to the school that helped them get where they are. Also, Roy told the story about how ESPN wasn't going to let Tiger Band on the field for a game last year. Roy told the story of how Les Miles found out about it and asked to speak to the ESPN official in the locker room. When he got there Coach Miles told him if Tiger Band wasn't out there he wasn't coming out of the locker room. Way to geaux, Les Miles!
3/18/14 5:50 am CT
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
The LSU football team will return to the practice field today for the start of the second week of spring practice. The first week of practice generated a lot of discussion about the battle at quarterback between sophomore Anthony Jennings, true freshman Brandon Harris and redshirt freshman Hayden Rettig. With Harris being a true freshmen only a few months removed from high school, it’s not surprising that he has looked green in the first week. And really, with a slew of wide receivers who are getting accustomed to bigger roles, like Travin Dural, John Diarse and Avery Peterson, it shouldn’t be surprising to see growing pains. However, green as they may be, the talent is there. Jennings’ is already visible on film from playing time in 2013.
After the first week of spring practice, I decided to revisit the Iowa game and breakdown Jennings’ performance two and a half months after the fact. The breakdown was surprisingly much more positive than I remembered. What felt like an underwhelming performance at the time turned out to be a performance that exhibited maturity (doing exactly what LSU asked him to do) in difficult circumstances.
Jennings converted 5-of-12 third down passes, read a speed option perfectly to scamper into the end zone for the Tigers’ first offensive score, and played disciplined ball against one of the best coached defenses of 2013. LSU, as a whole, played it safe, and Jennings took sacks instead of forcing balls, which helped the Tigers in a tight game against a stingy Iowa defense. That’s certainly a positive. The negatives, however, were Jennings’ inability to hit medium to long targets with great accuracy throughout the game. Sometimes he would get happy feet, not setting them before he threw, and as a result, he would overthrow receivers. With that said, some of Jennings’ deep balls were catchable, but Iowa provided tight coverage on Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham. Jennings’ worst throw of the day allowed Iowa back into the game, as an overthrown pass was intercepted and returned to the Tigers’ goal line, setting up Iowa’s first score.
The most important aspect of Jennings’ performance against Iowa is that he did what his coaches asked - he didn’t lose the game for LSU. For a true freshman making his first career start in a bowl game, you can’t really ask for much more than that. As a sophomore, expectations have risen for Jennings, as has the level of competition for the starting role. Right now the battle between Jennings, Harris and Rettig appears to be tight, and it should be a fun one to watch between now and September. A few of you have asked if I think the competition is sincerely open to Harris and Rettig. Yes, I do.
In baseball news, after beating Nicholls State and Southern and losing two of three to Vanderbilt, LSU fell from No. 3 to No. 7 in Collegiate Baseball’s poll, and from No. 9 to No. 11 in Perfect Game’s. In the USA Today Coaches poll and Baseball America’s rankings, the Tigers remained at numbers 6 and 8 respectively.
LSU's next three baseball games will be televised by CST (Cox Sports Television). The Tigers host defending Sun Belt Conference regular-season co-champion South Alabama Wednesday and take on Georgia in the first SEC home series this weekend. Lyn Rollins, Ben McDonald and Ronnie Rantz will have the call, and I’m looking forward to watching the Tigers bounce back and address some of the concerns that surfaced against Vanderbilt.
Here’s this week’s LSU baseball schedule:
March 19 (Wed.) – SOUTH ALABAMA, 6:30 p.m. (Cox Sports Television)
March 21 (Fri.) – GEORGIA, 7 p.m. (Cox Sports Television)
March 22 (Sat.) – GEORGIA, 6:30 p.m. (Cox Sports Television)
March 23 (Sun.) – GEORGIA, 12 p.m.
In basketball news, the LSU women’s team received some good news yesterday when they learned that they are a 7 seed in the NCAA tournament and will host Georgia Tech in Sunday's 11:30 a.m. CT opening round on ESPN2. This is the third consecutive NCAA Tournament bid for the Lady Tigers under head coach Nikki Caldwell, and the program’s 15th appearance in the last 16 seasons since 1999.
The PMAC will be a host site for first and second-round games, and if you’d like to attend please see LSUTix.net for information on single-session or three-game ticket books. The winners of Sunday's games will advance to play at 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday. All three games of the NCAA Tournament First and Second Rounds from the Maravich Center will be televised by ESPN, ESPN2 and www.WatchESPN.com.
Reader Comments: Scott, here’s a good video by NOLA.com to share with your readers. It’s of LaEl Collins talking about new O-line coach Jeff Grimes holding players to a higher standard.
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