NCAA Baseball Championships:
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5/14/18 5:30 am CST
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
Behind the strong pitching of Nick Bush and hot hitting of Daniel Cabrera, LSU defeated Alabama 7-3 to win a crucial series and keep LSU’s postseason hopes alive. The win gave LSU its 14th SEC win of the season and marked the first time since 2003 that the Tigers have won all five of its SEC home series. I mention the 14th league win because, as we wrote yesterday, LSU could pretty much assure itself of an NCAA Tournament bid with 16 regular-season league wins (there’s never been an SEC team that reached that mark and didn’t make it), and could quite possibly make it with 15, though they might have to win a game or two in the SEC Tournament in order for that to happen. If the SEC Tournament were to start this week, LSU would be the No. 6 seed and would play No. 11 Miss. State in the single-elimination first round, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves…
As Coach Mainieri said after the game, Nick Bush might very well have saved LSU’s season yesterday with his outstanding performance. That’s a great storyline in and of itself since Bush had struggled in his previous two appearances against Arkansas and wasn’t penciled in for yesterday’s start until AJ Labas experienced shoulder soreness Saturday night after a throwing drill. Mainieri turned to Bush on short notice and he was up to the task. The sophomore southpaw fired six strong innings and allowed only one earned run on five hits with two strikeouts and one walk. When it was all said and done, the LSU pitching staff allowed only two walks all day (one came from closer Todd Peterson in the ninth), which was a huge improvement over the night before when 10 were issued.
Another interesting storyline from the game is that it marked the final appearance in an SEC regular-season home game for three LSU seniors – leftfielder Beau Jordan, catcher Nick Coomes and first baseman Austin Bain – and they were all big contributors in the win. Jordan was 3-for-4 at the plate with one RBI and one run; Coomes contributed a double and played solid defense behind the plate; and Bain launched a solo homer to tie the game 1-1 in the second inning.
Leading the way for the Tigers offensively was hot-hitting Daniel Cabrera. The freshman from Baton Rouge’s Parkview Baptist HS went 2-for-2 with a double, a home run, and four RBIs to cap an outstanding weekend. In the three-game series, Cabrera went 7-for-10 (.700!) with six RBIs, two doubles, a triple and a home run. I tell you, that kid is going to be a lot of fun to watch the next couple of years.
Here’s a quick scoring recap of the game for those of you who missed it with Mother’s Day festivities: The scoring began in the top of the second when a popup lost in the sun allowed Bama’s Sam Praytor to reach base and later come home on a two-out RBI double by John Trousdale. LSU got the run right back in the bottom of the inning on a solo homer by Austin Bain and then took a one-run lead in the third when Jake Slaughter singled, advanced to second on a sac bunt, and scored on Beau Jordan’s RBI single. LSU extended its lead to 4-1 in the fifth with a two-out rally when Beau Jordan singled through the left side and Cabrera blasted an opposite field home run, his seventh dinger of the season. With one out in the top of the sixth, an Alabama solo shot made it a 4-2 game, but again the Tigers were quick to answer with a three-run bottom half of the inning to take the 7-2 lead. With one out, Coomes doubled to left-center field, then Hunter Feduccia entered to pinch run for Coomes and scored after Slaughter ripped a single through the left side. The other two runs came when back-to-back hits by Hal Hughes and Beau Jordan loaded the bases for Cabrera, who smashed a double to the right field wall. The Crimson Tide’s third and final run came in the top of the ninth when a leadoff triple was followed by an RBI double to make it 7-3.
Next up, the Tigers will return to action tomorrow with a 6:30 p.m. contest against Northwestern State for the final home contest of the year. Though it’s not a conference game, it’s a significant one at this time of the season when LSU is fighting to raise its RPI. What makes this game particularly interesting is that LSU is very limited in its pitching options. In addition to Labas, fellow freshman Nick Storz suffered a setback this week when he aggravated his shoulder. He won’t be available tomorrow, but beyond that is unclear.
Now for the hot topic of football recruiting and Joe Burrow’s visit. The Burrows left Baton Rouge without giving LSU a commitment and I’ve heard from several of you who take that as a bad sign. Honestly, it doesn’t surprise me that the Burrows want to mull things over a bit more before making such an important decision. As of now, it appears to me that they are deciding between: 1) A Cincinnati program that offers proximity to home, a strong relationship with head coach Luke Fickell, and, according to some reports, a promise that Joe would be their starter; or 2) A much more prestigious LSU program that’s a long way from home but offers an elite level of Power 5/SEC competition and all that comes with it – including national exposure and a greater chance of playing for a title – as well as a very strong opportunity to be the starting quarterback and a relationship with safeties coach Bill Busch. At this point, it’s anyone’s guess how this thing plays out, but I suspect we’ll have a better feel for things very soon.
• For the fourth consecutive year, the LSU softball team is a national seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Tigers were selected last night as the No. 11 overall seed and will host the Baton Rouge Regional this weekend with UL-Lafayette, Houston and Fordham May 18-20 at Tiger Park. LSU will take on Fordham at 5:30 p.m. CT Friday evening, with Houston and UL-Lafayette playing in the first game of the regional at 3 p.m. Here’s more on the topic.
• Lastly, hats off to LSU lady track and fieldsters Mikiah Brisco, Kortnei Johnson, Rachel Misher and Aleia Hobbs for setting a new collegiate record in the 4x100 meter relay during yesterday’s SEC Championships. Their strong run helped lead LSU to a second place finish behind No. 1 Florida. Nice job, ladies!
That’s it for now. Have a great day, Tiger Fans.
5/13/18 5:50 am CST
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
First things first, Happy Mother’s Day to all you moms out there. Just as my father did every year when he was publishing this site, I’d like to encourage those of you who can to call your mother this morning and tell her you love her. That is, of course, if you are not able to tell her in person. Man how I wish I could do that today.
Now for your daily dose of Tiger News...
After finding some late-inning magic in Friday’s win, there was none to be found for the LSU baseball team last night as the Tigers suffered a 6-1 loss to Alabama. The loss dropped LSU to 13-13 in SEC play and makes today’s rubber match the most important game of the season. As stated several times during the broadcast, typically an SEC team needs to get to 16 regular-season league wins to assure itself an NCAA tournament bid. Getting there without a win today would probably require a sweep at Auburn, which is obviously a tall task since LSU hasn’t won a road series all year and has only won three road games all year. Even with a win today, the Tigers would need two wins at Auburn to reach 16 regular-season league wins, which illustrates just how much LSU’s postseason hopes hinge on today’s game. Of course, 15 regular-season SEC wins and a couple of wins in Hoover might very well do the trick, but however you slice it, a loss today is something the Tigers can ill-afford. But back to last night’s game…
Ma’Khail Hilliard got the start for the Tigers and, for one of the few times this season, didn’t have good fastball command. As a result, he could rarely get to his put-away curveball and ended up giving up five runs on four hits with five walks and two hit batsmen in three innings of work. Relievers Cam Sanders, Trent Vietmeier and Clay Moffitt were successful in limiting the Crimson Tide to just one run the remainder of the game (despite allowing a combined five walks to bring LSU’s total to 10), but LSU’s bats never came close to digging the Tigers out of their early five-run hole.
Offensively, the Tigers hit into four double plays in the first five innings and collected just five hits on the night. And only one of those five hits occurred with a runner on base. That one came in the fourth inning when Antoine Duplantis led with a double, advanced to third on Austin Bain’s groundout, and scored the Tigers’ only run on Daniel Cabrera’s RBI single. Cabrera would end the night 2-for-3 to bring his hit total to five in the last two games, which is about the most positive thing I can write about last night’s game.
The Tigers will look to bounce back today but, unfortunately, will have to do so without their new Game 3 starter. Last night, Coach Mainieri announced that freshman righthander AJ Labas is experiencing shoulder soreness and will not pitch today. Instead, Mainieri will start sophomore southpaw Nick Bush and will follow with guys like Devin Fontenot, Matthew Beck, and Austin Bain. First pitch is set for 2 p.m. and the game will be streamed online via SECN+, accessible at WatchESPN.com and via the WatchESPN app.
In other baseball news, former LSU pitcher Louis Coleman has been called up to the Major League roster of the Detroit Tigers, where he’ll join fellow former Tigers Mikie Mahtook and JaCoby Jones. LSU currently has a total of 11 players in the big leagues, 10 of which were coached by Paul Mainieri, who has produced a total of 15 MLB players during his 12-season LSU tenure. Along with Coleman, Mahtook and Jones, former LSU players that have appeared on MLB rosters this season are pitcher Aaron Nola (Phillies), second baseman DJ LeMahieu (Rockies), pitcher Kevin Gausman (Orioles), pitcher Nick Goody (Indians), third baseman Alex Bregman (Astros), pitcher Will Harris (Astros), infielder Ryan Schimpf (Angels) and outfielder Andrew Stevenson (Nationals).
Now for the topic on everyone’s mind – quarterback Joe Burrow and his LSU visit. The word is that the Burrow arrived with his parents and with his brother who lives in Houston, and that the whole group is enjoying their time in Baton Rouge. The one connection that LSU has going for it more than any other appears to be the relationship between Burrow’s father, who is currently the defensive coordinator at Ohio, and new LSU safety coach Bill Busch. The two have crossed paths in their football careers many times and are longtime friends. Much of yesterday was spent in the meeting room where the LSU staff showcased it’s new-look offense and how Burrow would fit in, and from what I understand it went extremely well. As of now, I haven’t heard of any timeline on Burrow’s decision, other than that he will make up his mind soon enough to enroll in Summer school, which begins on June 4 at LSU. Everything I’ve heard leaves me feeling better than ever about LSU’s chances.
Sticking to football, it’s time for Part 2 of the brief series we began yesterday highlighting players who have not yet suited up for the Tigers but could make a major impact this year. Here we geaux…
CB Terrence Alexander
(5-10, 182, Stanford University, John Curtis High)
After missing out on a pure cornerback in December and in February, Coach Ed Orgeron went to the grad transfer market and picked up Terrence Alexander to help fill a void left by the departure of former starting Tiger CBs Donté Jackson and Kevin Toliver. When Alexander arrives next month, he’ll be thrown right into one of the biggest position battles on the team – the battle for the starting cornerback spot opposite of projected future first-round pick Greedy Williams. Also in the mix are sophomore defensive backs Jontre Kirklin, Kary Vincent, and Mannie Netherly, and incoming freshman Kelvin Joseph. It’s probably a good bet that the open cornerback position as well as the nickel back position will be filled by two of those competitors, and Alexander’s experience will likely give him a leg up on the competition. “Obviously, we're excited about him because he’s played in games,” Coach Ed Orgeron said in a post-spring press conference a few weeks ago. “He’s played in games and he’s fast.” That speed allowed Alexander to excel on the gridiron and in track and field while at John Curtis High School (where he was ranked at No. 28 on our list of Top LA Prospects for 2014) and at Stanford University. He won’t be running track at LSU but his combination of speed and experience should give him a fast track to playing time at a position of need.
As I do most weeks, I’ll leave you with a good read to go along with your second cup of Sunday morning coffee. It’s by the Washington Post and is titled, “How Derrius Guice fits in Redskins’ offense — including on plays with Chris Thompson.”
Have a great day, Tiger Fans, especially all of you Mothers.
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