NCAA Baseball Championships:
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6/18/17 5:50 am CST
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
Behind solid relief pitching, speed on the bases, a bizarre eighth-inning rally, and the never quit mentality of this Fighting Tigers baseball team, LSU defeated Florida State 5-4 in its all-important first game of the CWS tournament. The victory was the Tigers’ 17th consecutive win and sets up for what should be an incredible matchup Monday night against the top-ranked Oregon State Beavers who have won 22 straight.
There were so many weird aspects of the game that it’s hard to know where to begin, so let’s start with pitching. Who would have thought that Alex Lange would struggle only to be picked up by fellow starter Jared Poché out of the bullpen? Poché entered trailing 3-4 with a runner on first and no outs in the seventh and quickly retired the Seminoles on a groundout and double play. He then went on to make quick work of the Seminoles in the eighth inning before LSU’s bats followed with two runs in the eighth to put Poché in line for the win. Poché would earn that win and notch his place in the record book as tied for the most career wins (38) in LSU history thanks in part to Zach Hess’s dramatic game-ending strikeout in the ninth.
Offensively, there was plenty of strangeness to go around as well. For instance, take the first inning when Antoine Duplantis scored all the way from first on a third-strike pitch that got past the catcher. As strange as that was, it was nothing compared to the eighth inning. After Kramer Robertson popped up, Cole Freeman reached base on a ball that was deflected off the pitcher’s glove. Then, after what has come to be known as a “rally beach-ball” found its way onto the grass in right field, Duplantis hit a single through the infield that went under the right fielder's glove, which, when compounded with two more errors on the play, allowed Freeman to score the tying run. Greg Deichmann followed after a pitching change and drove in the go-ahead run on a clutch seeing-eye single.
While there was plenty of strangeness in the game, let it not take away from the gutsy determination and never-quit hustle of this feisty Tigers team that made the win possible. LSU didn’t play its best ball, but did play error-free ball and took advantage of three Seminole errors by utilizing perhaps its biggest advantage – its speed on the base paths – to come away with the great win.
Here is the game’s complete box score. Unfortunately, I was not able to find any video highlights at the time of this post (5:50 AM), but I did find this brief video of the bizarre “rally beach-ball” play.
Next up for the Tigers (49-17) will be a huge showdown against No. 1 Oregon State (55-4) Monday night at 6 p.m. CT. LSU will send freshman Eric Walker to the mound and will have Caleb Gilbert and all of its bullpen available to relieve him. Oh, and just so you know, a late night coin-toss determined that LSU will be the home team for the game.
Just as it was a huge day in baseball, it was also an outstanding day on the football recruiting front as LSU picked up three big commitments during its OL/DL camp – two for the Class of 2018 and another for 2019.
The two 2018 pledges came from the Ferriday duo of Dare Rosenthal (6-7, 325) and Dantrieze Scott (6-4, 210). Rosenthal, the mammoth defensive tackle, is No. 3 on our list of 2018 Louisiana prospects, while athlete Scott is at No. 25. As you might recall, Rosenthal committed to Alabama as a freshman and de-committed last year. LSU has been heavily pursuing him, and the commitment from Scott helped LSU reel him in. Scott and Rosenthal are best friends and are closer than a lot of brothers.
Much has been said in the past about Rosenthal’s ability. Dandy Don contributor and Ouachita Citizen sports writer Jake Martin covered him for two years when he was the sports editor for the Natchez Democrat. Jake said he once saw Rosenthal track down a receiver screen while playing a 3-technique. That gives you a little insight on the explosion and quickness Rosenthal possesses.
As for Scott, he’s not only an exceptional athlete on the football field, but he’s also a dominant power forward who makes several alley-oop highlight reel dunks a game. But rest assured, his true potential lies on the football field. Scott is a tall receiving target with good length and strong hands, but he’s made a larger impact as a disruptor at defensive end. When fully healthy, Scott lived in opponents’ backfields the past few seasons. Obviously, fans will be excited about the Rosenthal commitment, but LSU got a pair of long, talented athletes who could both develop into playmakers down the road.
With these two Ferriday commits, LSU’s 2018 class now contains 19 commitments and is ranked No. 3 nationally.
For the Class of 2019, LSU landed a big-time offensive tackle from my neck of the woods, Thomas Perry (6-5, 325) of Teurlings Catholic. Perry has great size and has really been turning heads in the camp circuits. After attending Texas A&M’s camp last month, he landed an offer, and he did the same yesterday when working out in front of LSU’s Coach Jeff Grimes. With his commitment, LSU’s 2019 class now contains six commitments (three O-linemen) and is ranked No. 4 in the nation.
Now let’s close out this report by continuing our countdown to the start of LSU’s 2017 football season, which has reached the 76-day mark, by looking at one of LSU’s greatest offensive tackles of all-time, No. 76 Andrew Whitworth.
Rated as the No. 5 offensive lineman in the nation by Rivals.com coming out of West Monroe High School, Whitworth redshirted in 2001 but then went on to start a remarkable 52 straight games. To realize how significant that sentence is, consider this: Whitworth’s streak of consecutive games is an LSU record and is second most in NCAA history. In fact, Whitworth was so durable that he only missed one practice during his entire collegiate career, and that was to attend graduation ceremonies in December of 2005.
Besides helping lead LSU to the National Championship in 2003, Whitworth was part of 41 victories over his four years as a starter (2002-2005), which concluded with a resounding 40-3 victory over No. 9 Miami in the 2005 Peach Bowl. After garnering numerous awards, including First-Team All-SEC and Second-Team All-American as a senior, Whitworth was selected by the Cincinnati Bengals as the 55th pick of the second round of the 2006 NFL draft. To this point, Whitworth has enjoyed a highly successful 11-year career with the Bengals that has included two Pro Bowls (2012, 2015) and three First-Team All-Pro selections (2010, 2014, 2015). While starting 164 games in 11 seasons, Whitworth became the first Bengal offensive lineman to catch a touchdown pass since 1995 when he hauled in a 1-yard TD pass on December 12 of 2010 against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Rated as the no. 67 player in the NFL Top 100 list for 2016, Whitworth is expected to have another great year this upcoming season. On March 9, 2017, he signed a three-year contract with the Los Angeles Rams. Not only has Whitworth been highly successful on the field, he’s been doing great things off the field as well through his own nonprofit, BigWhit 77 Foundation, which promotes the development of young leaders and supports many causes through its charitable events that are predominantly in the West Monroe and northern Louisiana areas.
Lastly, I want to wish all of you fellow fathers a Happy Father’s day. Those of you who have followed this site for several years know that my Dad, “Dandy Don Long,” for whom this site was created and named, would always post a message on Father’s Day encouraging you to pick up the phone and call your Dad to tell him you love him. I wish more than anything that I could do that today. Man, would we have a lot to talk about!
6/17/17 5:50 am CST
Good morning, Tiger Fans, it’s Game Day!
Today’s the day all of us LSU baseball fanatics have been eagerly awaiting for two years - the day the Fighting Tigers return to College World Series action in an attempt to win their seventh CWS championship. Tonight’s game between the Florida State Seminoles (45-21) and our beloved Tigers (48-17) gets underway at 7 p.m. CT and will be televised by ESPN. The game will also be streamed online at WatchESPN.com and via the Watch ESPN app and can be heard on the affiliates of the LSU Sports Radio Network (98.1 FM in Baton Rouge). For those of you who follow DandyDonLSU on Twitter, I will be tweeting a few comments and stats throughout the game.
As you already know from previous reports, Alex Lange will get the start in tonight’s game, but what you might not have heard is LSU’s pitching plans for Game 2 on Monday. Yesterday Coach Mainieri revealed that he plans to start freshman right-hander Eric Walker on Monday (not senior southpaw Jared Poché), provided Walker feels well. Walker threw a simulated game on Saturday and felt some unusual forearm soreness afterward. He will throw again before tonight’s game, and if all is well he’ll get the start on Monday. What that means is that Poché would be available to enter in relief of Lange in tonight’s game should he be needed.
In our previous two reports, we wrote about two keys to an LSU victory and today we’ll give you a third one…
Keys to an LSU Victory Over Florida State | Part 3 of 3
3. Play the stadium well
Much like The Hoover Met, TD Ameritrade Park is characterized by a roomy, but sometimes tricky, outfield. Ever since 2012 and a Super Regional loss at home to Stony Brook, the Tigers’ outfield has been built for moments like this, and it’s important that the speedy trio of Greg Deichmann, Zach Watson, and Antoine Duplantis make sure that is an advantage for LSU.
When Lange is on, his breaking ball – when hittable – and his changeup induce fly balls that tend to hang up, but can also carry, depending on his velocity. As Watson especially showed in Hoover, the ability to go and get balls that might split gaps in smaller outfields could be a major shot in the arm for a defense that is already rock-solid.
With runs so hard to come by in the cavernous stadium, getting to fly balls and saving bases will be a massive hidden detail to watch.
If you missed our first two keys to an LSU victory – 1. Big dog needs to set the tone; and 2. Left-handed adjustments – you can find the complete three-part mini series here.
Here is tonight’s pitching matchup and a few miscellaneous notes about tonight’s game:
LSU – Jr. RHP Alex Lange (9-5, 2.92 ERA, 111.0 IP, 40 BB, 134 SO)
FSU – So. LHP Tyler Holton (10-2, 2.25 ERA, 112.0 IP, 29 BB, 139 SO)
• Florida State is extremely disciplined at the plate and leads the entire nation in bases on balls. This makes things especially interesting with Alex Lange on the mound tonight, as his “out pitch” is often that filthy curveball that ends up low in the zone or in the dirt.
• Tonight’s game marks the first meeting between LSU and Florida State since the semifinal round of the 2000 CWS, when LSU posted a 6-3 win over the Seminoles and went on to defeat Stanford in the CWS championship game. The Tigers are 2-1 all-time vs. Florida State in CWS games; along with the aforementioned 2000 matchup, LSU defeated FSU, 6-2, in the 1987 CWS, and the Seminoles posted a 6-3 win over the Tigers in the 1994 CWS. Florida State leads the overall series with LSU, 9-7.
• LSU has the highest winning percentage in NCAA Tournament history with a 148-58 (.718) record and is competing in the tournament for the 30th time.
• The Tigers are making their 18th College World Series appearance (all since 1986). LSU and Cal State Fullerton are tied for seventh place in all-time CWS berths. The Tigers have won six CWS titles (1991, 1993, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2009) and are tied with Texas for the second-most CWS championships. First-place Southern California has 12.
I hope all of you enjoy today's game, and I look forward to recapping a Tiger win in my morning report.
Turning to football, The Advocate reports that Willie Allen, the former John Curtis offensive tackle who announced his departure from LSU earlier this month, is barred from transferring to TCU. According to the article, LSU believes there was illegal contact between TCU and Allen, and that’s the reason for Coach Orgeron’s decision to bar him from joining the Horned Frogs. Allen reportedly indicated via a text message to The Advocate that despite the blocking, he has “nothing but love & respect for Coach O.” Likewise, Coach Orgeron has indicated that if Allen decides to come back to LSU, he would be welcomed.
Moving on, let’s continue our countdown to the start of LSU’s highly-anticipated football season, which has reached the 77-day mark. You may recognize that today’s countdown topic has been used in previous years, but it’s just so fitting for the number 77 that I had to repeat it. Of course, I’m talking about LSU’s 77-0 thrashing of Rice in the year 1977. There were several records set that night, and most of them involved sophomore split end Carlos Carson who entered the game having never caught a pass in his collegiate career. Carlos left Tiger Stadium that night having caught five passes, all for touchdowns. In doing so, he broke the NCAA record for the most consecutive touchdown passes, and the SEC records for the most touchdowns in a game and most average yards per catch, 40.2. It was an unprecedented individual performance that we’ll probably never see matched again. Carlos earned All-SEC honors that year and ended his LSU career in 1979 with a total of 89 receptions for 1,728 yards and 14 TDs. The 5-foot-11 receiver was drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs in the fifth round of the 1980 NFL Draft and went on to a very successful 10-season career in the NFL where he was a Pro-Bowl selection in 1983.
I’d be remiss to not also mention last year’s No. 77, center Ethan Pocic, who finished a brilliant four-year career that included 37 starts and First Team All SEC and All American selections in 2016. Pocic was selected in the second round of this year’s NFL draft by the Seattle Seahawks, and I know I speak for all Tiger fans when I wish him the absolute best of luck in his NFL career.
• Following its third-straight appearance in the Women's College World Series and the fourth under head coach Beth Torina, the LSU softball team finished 2017 ranked sixth in USA Today/NFCA and ESPN.com/USA Softball Top-25 polls. LSU will have a hard time replacing senior All-Americans Bailey Landry and Sahvanna Jaquish, but will return five of eight position players plus pitchers Carley Hoover and Allie Walljasper. (For more on this topic, see the full press release from LSU.)
• If you’re in Omaha or heading that way (I’m jealous), don’t forget to check out our reader-submitted suggestions for Things to See and Do in Omaha.
• If you’ve got some extra time this Saturday morning, here’s a great article posted last night by the Advocate called, “Skip Bertman and Paul Mainieri: Two Miami boys, best friends and LSU coaching winners.”
I’ll close this daily dose on a personal note: Today marks my 22nd wedding anniversary, and I want to thank my lovely bride, Heather, for putting up with me all these years, and for being such an outstanding mother to our three beautiful daughters. As for the Game Day/Anniversary dilemma I mentioned a couple of days ago – we’ve decided to handle it by celebrating the occasion while in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, next week instead of tonight.
This web site is not officially affiliated with Louisiana State University. Opinions expressed herein are the property of Donald Long, Scott Long and friends, not Louisiana State University.