NCAA Baseball Championships:
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3/24/14 5:55 am CT
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
The LSU baseball team played a four-hour, 13-inning game yesterday that they should have won, but instead tied, 2-2. The game was stopped after 13 innings to allow the Bulldogs time to catch their flight back to Georgia. Interestingly enough, the last time LSU played a baseball game that resulted in a tie was also against Georgia, back on April 20, 2008, in the old Alex Box Stadium.
I say the Tigers should have won the game because they have several chances to do so but didn’t take advantage of the opportunities. The Tigers left 17 runners on base, including 11 in scoring position, and also had two major baserunning errors. One occurred in the 7th inning when Mark Laird was on third with one man out and failed to go home on a ball hit to the right side of the infield, which resulted in a Georgia double-play. If Laird had gone home, he would have almost certainly scored. Even if he would not have scored, he would have eliminated the double-play. The other baserunning blunder came in the 13th when pinch runner Dakota Dean was instructed to go home from third but misunderstood third base coach Will Davis as saying “no!” instead of “go!”
On the positive side, LSU did get a tremendous outing from it’s bullpen as Henri Faucheux, Parker Bugg, Joe Broussard, Zac Person and Nate Fury combined to shut out Georgia over the final 12 innings. The Bulldogs’ two runs came in the first inning off of Kurt McCune who really struggled. The first batter he faced doubled, the next singled, and the third doubled to score a run. A groundout in the same inning scored the Bulldogs’ only other run of the night.
I don’t often include post-game quotes from Coach Mainieri in my recaps, but I think these two statements he made really sum it up well:
“It was certainly a frustrating day, because we had opportunities to win the game,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. “We had some bad luck and we made some baserunning errors that kept us from scoring. It definitely wasn’t a hitters’ day with the wind blowing in, but I thought our offense would rise up and give us more production.
“On the other hand, our bullpen was spectacular today, throwing 12 straight scoreless innings. Those guys gave us everything they had on every pitch. Now we simply have to turn the page and move forward; baseball is a game that doesn’t allow you to feel sorry for yourself, so we’ll look ahead to facing Tulane on Tuesday.”
Offensively, LSU out-hit Georgia 11-7. The Tigers were led at the plate by Sean McMullen, Christian Ibarra, and Laird who each collected two hits, and by Alex Bregman and Kade Scivicque who each came through with timely RBIs. LSU’s video highlights of the game can be seen in our Media Gallery.
The Tigers will return to action tomorrow at Tulane. First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. There will be no TV broadcast.
Now turning to football, I feel a need to address LSU’s current quarterback situation and the lack of information given out on Hayden Rettig after yesterday’s scrimmage, especially since so many of you emailed me about it. Les Miles told the media after the scrimmage that Rettig throws a really nice ball and that he’s in a position to contribute. However, Miles initially sang high praises for Brandon Harris and Anthony Jennings and only commented on Rettig after someone asked him about the redshirt freshman quarterback.
At the end of the day, you have to trust the coaches’ judgement in selecting the best players to lead the team. They see these young men perform much more than any of us do, and they have a vested interest in putting the best players on the field. With that said, I understand the fans’ concerns, considering that great quarterback play could transform LSU from a good team to a great team. The other pieces of the puzzle seem to be in place with an experienced offensive line, an improved defensive line and linebacker corps, and a stable of running backs and wide receivers that will have loads of talent once the full 2014 class reports in August. But the quarterback position, talented as it may be, remains a question mark.
The obvious question stemming from that press conference is: Did Jennings and Harris distance themselves from the other quarterbacks leading up to the scrimmage? That seems to be the case, but it could be that LSU wanted to run the spread option in the first spring practice, which makes sense as to why Harris and Jennings were the focal point of conversation. The Tigers have been practicing it, and the added element of running capability has been the only thing visibly separating Harris and Jennings from Rettig. At least that’s how it has appeared in the very limited time the media has seen the team practice so far.
The LSU Tigers are far from being the only team to enter spring practice with questions at quarterback. In fact, most of the powerhouse SEC schools like Alabama, Texas A&M, Georgia, South Carolina and Missouri will have to replace their starting quarterback next season as well. Tomorrow, we’ll take a look at Alabama and Texas A&M’s predicament at quarterback and how it compares to LSU’s. Stay tuned.
Switching to basketball, at 8 p.m. tonight on ESPN, LSU’s men will take on Larry Brown’s SMU in the second round of the NIT. Under Brown’s leadership, SMU was a bubble team that held victories over Cincinnati and Connecticut, so you can expect their combination of Ben Moore and Cannen Cunningham to give LSU one of its stiffest challenges of the year. This game might come down to Jarrell Martin and Shavon Coleman. Tiger fans pretty much know what they’ll get from Johnny O’Bryant and Jordan Mickey defensively, and Anthony Hickey and Andre Stringer usually provide a spark offensively. But when Martin and Coleman become key contributors on offense for the Tigers, like they were against the University of San Francisco in the opening round of the NIT, the Tigers can match up athletically with the best of them. It’s going to take a team effort to beat a sound team like SMU, but if the Tigers put together a complete game with Coleman and Martin contributing alongside O’Bryant, Hickey and Mickey, LSU could pull off the upset.
And last but not least, big congratulations are in order for LSU’s Lady Tigers who came away with a big win over Georgia Tech to advance to the second round of the NCAA tournament. The Lady Tigers used a fast-paced offensive attack to set the school's postseason scoring record and run away from the Yellow Jackets, 98-78. They also set a school postseason record in rebounding with 57. Danielle Ballard led the Tigers with 24 points and 17 rebounds, while Theresa Plaisance added 21 points and 11 rebounds. With the win, No. 7 seed LSU (20-11) advances to play No. 2 seed West Virginia tomorrow at 8:30 p.m. in the PMAC.
3/23/14 6:15 am CT
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
The LSU football team held its first full-scale scrimmage of the spring yesterday and according to Coach Miles showed improvement on both sides of the ball. The scrimmage was closed to the media and public, so the only information or stats I have on it come from this video of Miles’ press conference, and this press release sent out by LSU’s Sports Information Department, Here are the key points:
• Miles complimented the play of quarterbacks Anthony Jennings and Brandon Harris.
• The Tigers threw for just under 300 yards and there were some “nice deep throws.”
• Travin Dural caught a long touchdown pass and had a very good outing.
• Both Terrance Magee and Kenny Hilliard had nice outings. Miles said Hilliard is a little lighter and quicker than last year. Hilliard ran for a pair of TDs.â€¨
• Magee sprained his ankle but it sounds like it wasn’t very serious as he walked off the field.
• Miles praised the play of defensive tackles Christian LaCouture and Maquedius Bain and defensive end Tashawn Bower.
• Miles also complimented the play of special teamers Trent Domingue and Colby Delahoussaye.
• Jamie Keehn “isn’t getting a lot of snaps right now” but Trent Domingue has really improved.
LSU is now past the halfway point of spring practice with just five practices and two scrimmages remaining on the schedule. The Tigers will return to practice Tuesday afternoon in the first of three workouts next week.
In baseball news, LSU defeated Georgia last night, 2-1, thanks to a spectacular, error free defensive effort and the outstanding pitching of true freshman Jared Poché. The game featured two of the most highly regarded freshmen pitchers in the country, and they lived up to the hype. Poché threw eight and two-thirds impressive innings and allowed only one run on three hits, while striking out six and walking two. With a performance like that, it’s pretty safe to say that Poché will remain in the weekend pitching rotation as the Saturday starter. I would have loved to have seen Poché get a complete game in, but Coach Mainiei pulled him with two outs in the ninth with the winning run at the plate, and it was the right call. Joe Broussard came in to finish things off and did so in style, striking out the final batter on three pitches.
Poché’s counterpart, Georgia freshman pitcher Robert Tyler, only allowed six LSU hits, three of which came from Mark Laird who ended 3-for-4 with one RBI. The other three Tiger hits were singles by Alex Bregman and Tyler Moore and a leadoff triple by Sean McMullen.
Here’s a brief scoring summary: McMullen led off the game with a triple and Kade Scivicque’s RBI fielder’s choice made it a 1-0 game. In the fifth inning, Kramer Robertson advanced to second on an error, and Mark Laird’s singled to left field scored him, although Laird was thrown out at second trying to extend his hit to a double. The Bulldogs produced their only run of the game in the sixth inning with two outs and runners on first and second, as Nelson Ward singled through the left side. and Conor Welton scored before LSU’s Christian Ibarra threw out the runner at second to end the inning. Here are video highlights of the game.
The Tigers (20-4, 3-2) will go for the series sweep today at noon. The game will not be televised, but can be heard on the LSU Sports Radio Network (98.1 FM in Baton Rouge) and in the GeauxZone at LSUSports.net. During Coach Mainieri’s post-game presser, he stated that he still doesn’t know which pitcher he’ll start today. Kyle Bouman is still out with an ankle injury, and Cody Glenn’s last outing didn’t inspire a lot of confidence.
In basketball news, the seventh seed LSU Lady Tigers have a big NCAA tournament game today as they host tenth-seed Georgia Tech at 11:30 a.m. The game will be televised by ESPN2 along with www.WatchESPN.com and the Watch ESPN App on tablets. No. 2 West Virginia and No. 15 Albany will meet at 2 p.m. on ESPN, and the day’s two winners will face off in Tuesday’s second round action at 8:30 p.m. CT for a spot in next weekend’s NCAA Sweet 16.
3/22/14 5:55 am CT
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
First, it was great to hear from many of you about the three spring practice videos I posted yesterday. Glad you enjoyed them. At this time of the year, Tiger Fans just can’t get enough of LSU football, so I’m happy to be able to provide these videos for your enjoyment. In fact, I’ve got another football video to share with you today, although this one’s not my own. It’s a new LSU football hype video by Bonstonker called LSU Tigers Invincible, and it’s outstanding. I’ve added it to our Media Gallery.
In baseball news, LSU opened its first SEC home series last night with a 4-0 win over Georgia. Aaron Nola got the start for the Tigers and had a relatively tough outing, but “relatively” is the key word there. While it’s true that he wasn’t quite as sharp as usual early in the game, and he did walk a career-high four batters, he still allowed only two hits in six and two-thirds shutout innings while striking out eight. That’s pretty amazing and would be an exceptional outing for just about any other pitcher in the nation. Zac Person relieved Nola and threw two scoreless innings while striking out four, and then Joe Broussard came in to strikeout the final batter. With LSU’s pitching staff a little shorthanded due to injury, being able to get through last night’s game by only using two bullpen pitchers should pay dividends today and tomorrow.
The Tigers collected eight hits on the night and were led at the plate by Sean McMullen, Christian Ibarra, and Chris Chinea who each collected two hits in the game. True freshman Kramer Robertson also deserves recognition for driving in two runs on RBI groundouts. Robertson’s is one of those players that just sees to have that “it” factor and tends to make good things happen. I look for big things from the youngster before his days as a Tiger are over.
Here is a quick scoring summary of last night’s game: The Tigers got off to a fast start, taking a 2-0 lead in the second inning. With runners on the corners, Robertson hit an RBI groundout to score Ibarra. McMullen followed with an RBI double to plate Chinea. Robertson added another run on an RBI groundout in the fourth inning to plate Ibarra. Kade Scivicque started off the fifth inning with a single through the left side, and moved to second on a ground out by Conner Hale. Ibarra followed with a double to score Scivicque and make it 4-0.
First pitch for Game 2 of the series is set for 6:30 tonight, and it will feature a battle of two outstanding freshmen pitchers. LSU will start left-hander Jared Poché (4-1, 2.22 ERA) while Georgia will go with right-hander Robert Tyler (1-1, 2.13 ERA). It should be a fun one to watch, and if you can’t make it out to the Box you can catch it live on Cox Sports Television.
In football news, LSU will hold it’s first full-scale scrimmage of the spring today. The team held a light scrimmage last Saturday and worked mostly on first-and-10 situations, but today’s scrimmage will be more telling as the team will work on more aspects of the game including down-and-distance situations and special teams work. At this point the team is not tackling full-on, but there will be some “thud” tacking (contact without taking the player to the ground.) Here’s a a press release on today’s scrimmage, as sent out by LSU’s SID.
LSU SET FOR FULL-SCALE SCRIMMAGE ON SATURDAY IN TIGER STADIUM
BATON ROUGE – LSU will go through its first full-scale scrimmage of the spring on Saturday when the Tigers will hold a 100-plus play workout in Tiger Stadium to conclude its second full week of spring practice.
Saturday’s scrimmage is the first of three for the Tigers this spring. LSU will scrimmage again next Saturday, followed by the National L Club Spring Game, which is scheduled for a 1 p.m. kickoff in Tiger Stadium on Saturday, April 5.
“We are improving daily, but we still have work to do,” LSU coach Les Miles said. “We are looking to get a lot out of Saturday’s scrimmage. We are going to focus on third down situations with an emphasis on the defense getting a pass rush and pressuring the quarterback.”
LSU held an abbreviated scrimmage last week with the focus being on first-and-10 situations.
LSU continues to groom the replacement for the departed Zach Mettenberger, who will likely be a second or third round pick in the NFL Draft in May. Sophomore Anthony Jennings and true freshman and early enrollee Brandon Harris along with redshirt freshman Hayden Rettig are competing for the starting spot.
With the shift of senior Rob Bolden to wide receiver, Jennings is the only quarterback on the LSU roster with any game experience. Last year, Jennings played in nine games, starting LSU’s 21-14 win over Iowa in the Outback Bowl.
One thing aiding the development of the LSU quarterbacks has been the play of the offensive line along with the addition of new offensive line coach Jeff Grimes. LSU returns four starters on the offensive line, including a pair of seniors in left tackle La’el Collins and center Elliott Porter. The other returning offensive line starters for the Tigers are sophomore right tackle Jerald Hawkins and junior guard Vadal Alexander.
LSU’s offensive line features six players who have combined to start 76 games led by Collins, who has 25 career starts.
“I think the offensive line has really responded to Coach Grimes” Miles said. “He’s an attention-to-detail and technique coach. I think he’s coming in at the right time and really making an impact with that group.”
On the other side of the ball, Miles complimented the progress made so far during spring practice by sophomore Christian LaCouture, junior Quentin Thomas and redshirt freshmen Maquedius Bain and Frank Herron. LSU is looking to find replacements from that group for departed juniors Anthony Johnson and Ego Ferguson.
“The defensive line, in particular the defensive tackles, is coming along,” Miles said. “If you watch [Maquedious] Bain, Frank Herron and Quentin Thomas all of these guys are steadily improving. Christian LaCouture looks like he understands the drills and is having a really good spring.”
After Saturday, the Tigers will have seven practices remaining during the spring. LSU will practice on Tuesday and Thursday next week followed by the second full-scale scrimmage on Saturday.
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