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5/1/16 6:00 am CST

Good morning, Tiger Fans,

Yesterday was a really tough day in LSU baseball, as the Tigers (28-16, 11-10) fell to Ole Miss 8-2, marking their second consecutive SEC series loss and their fifth loss in seven games. With this being exam week for LSU students, the Tigers won’t have a chance to get back on the winning track until Friday when they travel to face the Razorbacks of Arkansas, and that’s going to feel like an awfully long time for those of us eager to put this weekend’s series out of our minds. 

In yesterday’s game, John Valek III got the start for the Tigers and was hit hard. In just 1.1 innings of work (his shortest outing of the season), the junior transfer from Akron allowed four earned runs on four hits, and all four hits were for extra bases. Two were doubles and two were home runs. LSU’s bullpen didn’t fare a whole lot better as five relievers combined for 6.2 innings and allowed four runs on nine hits. 

Offensively, the Tigers collected 11 hits on the day but were only 2-for-16 with runners in scoring position. If you’re looking for a positive to take away from yesterday’s offensive production, the biggest one I can offer is the hitting of freshman Chris Reid, who had a career best 4-for-4 day with two doubles. Here’s the complete boxscore.

The Tigers played the game without their hottest hitter, Jordan Romero, who was suspended due to Friday’s controversial play at the plate, and one has to wonder if things might have gone differently with his spark in the lineup. Still, that’s certainly no excuse. LSU didn’t pitch well enough to win, squandered too many opportunities at the plate, and were twice picked off of first base on threat-fizzling, inning-ending double plays. And, as fans of baseball, we would be remiss to not tip our hats to the Rebels (33-12, 12-9) for playing a great series, especially cleanup hitter JB Woodman who had three homers in the last two games and made several exceptional plays at centerfield to gun down Tigers at the plate. 

I would like to share a lot more thoughts on this young, talented and inconsistent baseball team, but instead of doing so now I’ll save them for tomorrow’s Mail Call as I’m sure I’ll hear from many of you today about the series. If you have questions or opinions you’d like me to comment on (any topic, not just baseball), send them my way and I’ll choose 6-8 to address tomorrow.

Turning to football, congratulations are in order for three former Tigers who were drafted in yesterday’s finale of the NFL draft and three others who agreed to free agent deals. The first to hear his name called yesterday was cornerback Rashard Robinson who was selected in the fourth round by the San Francisco 49ers as the 133rd overall pick. Then, after a much longer than anticipated wait, defensive back Jalen Mills and offensive lineman Vadal Alexander were picked in the seventh round. Mills was taken by the Philadelphia Eagles as the 233rd pick, and immediately afterward Alexander was taken by the Raiders with the 234th pick. I’m still shocked that these two didn’t go sooner than they did, as neither were projected to make it out of the third round. After the conclusion of the draft, linebacker Lamar Louis struck a free-agent deal with the Arizona Cardinals, long snapper Reid Ferguson agreed to join the Buffalo Bills, and Dillon Gordon indicated in a tweet that he’s heading to the Philadelphia Eagles.

In softball news, the Tigers extended their hot streak by defeating Arkansas 10-6 in the resumed series opener yesterday and then coming from behind for a 5-4 win in Game 2. In the first game, which was resumed in the top of the fourth with the Tigers leading 9-4, LSU went on to win 10-6. The Tigers belted out a total of 11 hits and were led at the plate by Sahvanna Jaquish with three RBIs in a 2-for-4 contest, including three that came on a double and one on her 12th home run of the season. Allie Walljasper (9-5) earned the win in the circle with a complete-game outing. In Game 2, the Tigers trailed by four runs before scoring five in the final two innings, including a two-out, two-RBI triple from senior Kellsi Kloss to take the lead in a three-run seventh. Carley Hoover (15-6) earned the win in that one, pitching a complete game with eight strikeouts and only one walk. The Tigers (39-13, 12-11) will go for the series sweep today at 1 p.m. and the game will be streamed live on SEC Network+.

As I do most weeks, I’ll leave you with a couple of good reads to go along with your Sunday morning coffee. 

Ross Dellenger: Draft tumbles come as surprise to LSU’s Jalen Mills, Vadal Alexander

Without suspended Romero, LSU can’t find timely hits in series-ending loss at Ole Miss

Remember, if you have questions or comments you’d like me to consider addressing in our Monday Morning Mail Call, please send them my way.


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5/1/16 6:00 am CST

Good morning, Tiger Fans,

Yesterday was a really tough day in LSU baseball, as the Tigers (28-16, 11-10) fell to Ole Miss 8-2, marking their second consecutive SEC series loss and their fifth loss in seven games. With this being exam week for LSU students, the Tigers won’t have a chance to get back on the winning track until Friday when they travel to face the Razorbacks of Arkansas, and that’s going to feel like an awfully long time for those of us eager to put this weekend’s series out of our minds. 

In yesterday’s game, John Valek III got the start for the Tigers and was hit hard. In just 1.1 innings of work (his shortest outing of the season), the junior transfer from Akron allowed four earned runs on four hits, and all four hits were for extra bases. Two were doubles and two were home runs. LSU’s bullpen didn’t fare a whole lot better as five relievers combined for 6.2 innings and allowed four runs on nine hits. 

Offensively, the Tigers collected 11 hits on the day but were only 2-for-16 with runners in scoring position. If you’re looking for a positive to take away from yesterday’s offensive production, the biggest one I can offer is the hitting of freshman Chris Reid, who had a career best 4-for-4 day with two doubles. Here’s the complete boxscore.

The Tigers played the game without their hottest hitter, Jordan Romero, who was suspended due to Friday’s controversial play at the plate, and one has to wonder if things might have gone differently with his spark in the lineup. Still, that’s certainly no excuse. LSU didn’t pitch well enough to win, squandered too many opportunities at the plate, and were twice picked off of first base on threat-fizzling, inning-ending double plays. And, as fans of baseball, we would be remiss to not tip our hats to the Rebels (33-12, 12-9) for playing a great series, especially cleanup hitter JB Woodman who had three homers in the last two games and made several exceptional plays at centerfield to gun down Tigers at the plate. 

I would like to share a lot more thoughts on this young, talented and inconsistent baseball team, but instead of doing so now I’ll save them for tomorrow’s Mail Call as I’m sure I’ll hear from many of you today about the series. If you have questions or opinions you’d like me to comment on (any topic, not just baseball), send them my way and I’ll choose 6-8 to address tomorrow.

Turning to football, congratulations are in order for three former Tigers who were drafted in yesterday’s finale of the NFL draft and three others who agreed to free agent deals. The first to hear his name called yesterday was cornerback Rashard Robinson who was selected in the fourth round by the San Francisco 49ers as the 133rd overall pick. Then, after a much longer than anticipated wait, defensive back Jalen Mills and offensive lineman Vadal Alexander were picked in the seventh round. Mills was taken by the Philadelphia Eagles as the 233rd pick, and immediately afterward Alexander was taken by the Raiders with the 234th pick. I’m still shocked that these two didn’t go sooner than they did, as neither were projected to make it out of the third round. After the conclusion of the draft, linebacker Lamar Louis struck a free-agent deal with the Arizona Cardinals, long snapper Reid Ferguson agreed to join the Buffalo Bills, and Dillon Gordon indicated in a tweet that he’s heading to the Philadelphia Eagles.

In softball news, the Tigers extended their hot streak by defeating Arkansas 10-6 in the resumed series opener yesterday and then coming from behind for a 5-4 win in Game 2. In the first game, which was resumed in the top of the fourth with the Tigers leading 9-4, LSU went on to win 10-6. The Tigers belted out a total of 11 hits and were led at the plate by Sahvanna Jaquish with three RBIs in a 2-for-4 contest, including three that came on a double and one on her 12th home run of the season. Allie Walljasper (9-5) earned the win in the circle with a complete-game outing. In Game 2, the Tigers trailed by four runs before scoring five in the final two innings, including a two-out, two-RBI triple from senior Kellsi Kloss to take the lead in a three-run seventh. Carley Hoover (15-6) earned the win in that one, pitching a complete game with eight strikeouts and only one walk. The Tigers (39-13, 12-11) will go for the series sweep today at 1 p.m. and the game will be streamed live on SEC Network+.

As I do most weeks, I’ll leave you with a couple of good reads to go along with your Sunday morning coffee. 

Ross Dellenger: Draft tumbles come as surprise to LSU’s Jalen Mills, Vadal Alexander

Without suspended Romero, LSU can’t find timely hits in series-ending loss at Ole Miss

Remember, if you have questions or comments you’d like me to consider addressing in our Monday Morning Mail Call, please send them my way.

4/30/16 5:55 am CST

Good morning, Tiger Fans,

The LSU baseball team came away with a huge 6-3 win over Ole Miss last night to even the series at one game apiece. The Tigers swung the bat well, which was great to see, but what was even more encouraging was the pitching of Alex Lange who seems to have really found his groove in his last two outings.

For the second week in a row, Alex Lange pitched a complete game, and in this one, he just kept getting stronger as the game went on. Lange only gave up two earned runs on the night, and both of them came in a rough first inning when Ole Miss pounded a triple and two-run homer. After that, Lange settled in for a masterful performance, looking like the Alex Lange of 2015. In his 108-pitch outing, the sophomore right-hander allowed seven hits while striking out seven, walking only one, and retiring eleven of the last 12 batters he faced. 

Offensively, the Tigers pounded out 11 hits for the second night in a row and were led at the plate Jordan Romero who went 2-for-2 with a home run and three RBI before getting ejected in the fifth inning on a controversial call. Romero collided into the catcher at home plate and was not only ruled out but ejected from the game. (Here’s a video of the play.) Just one night before, Ole Miss scored a run on a very similar play where their runner collided into Romero at the plate without even attempting to slide (Romero appeared to attempt to slide last night) and was called safe. I don’t like either call, but what I really don’t like is such inconsistency from an umpiring crew in a single series. To make matters worse, Romero’s ejection was for “unsportsmanlike conduct,” which carries with it a one-game suspension. If it had of been ruled a “collision” (without malicious intent), as originally expected, he would not be suspended for today’s game. This is really a tough blow for the Tigers as Romero has been hotter than anyone at the plate.

Other Tigers who excelled offensively were the Jordan twins who each went 2-for-4 and Greg Deichmann who broke out of his long slump and also went 2-for-4. Here’s the complete boxscore.

The Tigers will look to win the series today at 11 a.m. in a game that will be televised by ESPN2. FYI: I probably won’t be tweeting for the game as I plan to be enjoying it from the seat of my riding lawnmower, assuming the weather cooperates.

The weather did not cooperate for the LSU softball team yesterday as the opening game of its series at Arkansas was halted in the top of the fourth with the Tigers leading 9-4. The game will be resumed today at 3:30 p.m. ahead of game two which is scheduled for 6 p.m. The resumed Game 1 will not be streamed, however, Game 2 will be televised on ESPNU and streamed online via WatchESPN.

In football news, big congratulations are in order for former Tiger great Deion Jones who was drafted last night by the Atlanta Falcons in the second round (52nd overall pick). I’m extremely happy for Jones, whose story is a remarkable one. Until his senior season, Jones had been a backup with only one start to his name, but he persevered and became LSU’s leading tackler with 100 tackles last season as a weakside linebacker. His stock climbed even higher when he excelled at LSU’s Pro Day and turned heads with a 4.38 forty-yard dash. I know I speak for Tiger fans everywhere when I wish Jones a long and prosperous career in the NFL. 

I was surprised and disappointed to see that no other Tiger was drafted in the first three rounds. Rounds 4-7 will get underway today at 11 CT with several Tigers hoping to hear their names called. These include Jalen Mills, Vadal Alexander, Jerald Hawkins, Rashard Robinson, Lamar Louis, Dillon Gordon, Quentin Thomas, Reid Ferguson and Jamie Keehn. Here’s hoping their dreams come true today.

4/29/16 5:50 am CST

Good morning, Tiger Fans,

The LSU baseball team suffered a 7-6 loss to Ole Miss last night in Game 1 of the series and has now lost four of its last five games. In what was a back-and-forth contest for much of the night, the Tigers matched the Rebels in hits (11-11), but there were several plays at the plate which proved to be the difference in the game. One involved a poor call by the umpire when the runner failed to slide into home and knocked the ball out of Jordan Romero’s glove. Another involved a poor throw from Parker Bugg to allow the go-ahead run to score, and yet another involved a questionable base-coaching decision to send LSU’s would-be tying run home from second on a shallow hit to centerfield. 

Junior Jared Poché got the start for the Tigers and allowed four runs on eight hits in four innings of work. Poché was hit hard (three of the four hits were for extra bases) but showed great composure, was never rattled, and was able to work out of some sticky situations to keep the game in check. When he was replaced by Parker Bugg in the fifth, the game was tied 4-4, but Bugg would allow three runs to score on two hits, two walks and the aforementioned errant throw to home plate which allowed the go-ahead run to score. Russell Reynolds would hold the Rebels scoreless in the final two innings, despite walking three of the first four batters he faced. 

Offensively, the Tigers collected 11 hits, which is good, but were only 3-for-15 with runners in scoring position. Leading the way at the plate were Jake Fraley, Jordan Romero, and Antoine Duplantis. Fraley ended 3-for-5, Romero went 2-for-4 with three RBI, and Duplantis went 2-for-4 with an RBI. With pinch-runner Brennen Breaux at second and two outs, Duplantis almost had the game-tying RBI in the eighth when he singled to shallow centerfield, but Breaux was gunned out at the plate. As alluded to above, it is debatable whether third-base coach Nolan Cain made the right call in sending the runner home in that situation, but considering Breaux’s speed and the fact that the game was in the eighth inning with the Tigers facing a strong closer, I’ll hesitantly give him the benefit of the doubt.

Here’s the complete boxscore, and below is what Coach Mainieri had to say about the game, pulled from the press release issued by LSU:

“I thought we did a tremendous job against one of the best pitchers in the league (Bramlett),” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. “Our hitters scored two in the first inning and then we scored two more in the third. We ran his pitch count up. I thought we just did a tremendous job against him. Unfortunately, they were able to get a few hits off of Jared and were able to fight back. They are a good ball club and they showed why.”

“Jared was out there competing as hard as he could. He obviously didn’t have his ace stuff tonight. He got us through four innings. I thought Parker (Bugg) threw well and I thought (Russell) Reynolds threw well. We had an inning there where we just had a few plays we could have made but didn’t. It was just the story of the game. I thought it was a great ball game. It was exciting, and our kids played so hard. The difference was very slight between what we did and what they did tonight.”

The Tigers (27-15, 10-9) will look to even the series tonight at 6:30 with Alex Lange (4-3, 4.34 ERA) on the mound. (That is if the weather allows. As of now, there’s a 65% chance of rain in Oxford at game time.) Ole Miss (32-11, 11-8) is set to counter with sophomore southpaw David Parkinson (2-1, 1.70 ERA). The game can be viewed online on SEC Network +, accessible at WatchESPN.com and the Watch ESPN app.

In softball news, No. 12 LSU (37-13, 10-11) is set to close out conference play this weekend with a three-game series at Arkansas. Game one of the series, which starts tonight at 6 p.m., will be streamed online on SEC Network+. Tomorrow’s game also starts at 6 p.m and will be streamed online, whereas Sunday’s finale will start at 1 p.m. and will be broadcast on “regular TV” via ESPNU. LSU enters the weekend riding a seven-game winning streak after earning a 5-2 win over the McNeese State Cowgirls on Tuesday night at Tiger Park.

In football recruiting, earlier in the week I mentioned that Coach Ed Orgeron would be paying a visit to former Tiger Travonté Valentine. Well, according to this article by Jimmy Smith of nola.com, Valentine might just suit up for the Tigers as early as this fall. Smith cites “multiple sources” as saying LSU is “open to the idea” of taking back the 6-3, 350-pound defensive lineman, who was dismissed from the Tigers team before ever playing a down because of off-the-field trouble, if he maintains his current course and compliance decides that the transfer would meet NCAA guidelines. 

In other recruiting news, as of yesterday, college football coaches are now able to communicate with recruits via text message and social media. In a whimsical, quirky manner befitting of the Mad Hatter, Coach Les Miles released this video yesterday suggesting that he’s not only gearing up for the change but that he’s awfully confident about his 2016 Tigers. I love the video and think it’s great, but on a serious note, how do you feel about the new NCAA rule allowing coaches to send unlimited text messages to prospects? Is this a good thing? Send me your thoughts on the matter and I’ll choose a few of your comments for posting in a subsequent report.

I’ll leave you with this closing tidbit: Another light-hearted sign of Coach Miles embracing today’s technology (in addition to the texting video linked above) is this tweet he sent out yesterday for Throwback Thursday (#TBT). It includes a pic of Miles and former LSU coach Gerry DiNardo taken 30+ years ago, from the time when the two worked together as assistants on the Colorado coaching staff. 

That’s it for today’s daily dose. Have a great Friday, Tiger Fans.

 

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