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5/15/12 5:35 am CST

Good morning, Tiger Fans,


1. After winning three out of four last week including a series win over Alabama and a midweek win over McNeese State, LSU jumped back into one of the four major weekly polls. LSU came in at No. 28 in Collegiate Baseball’s latest rankings but remained unranked in all the others. LSU’s RPI didn’t see much movement and is currently at 50. 

2. LSU baseball returns to action tonight with a 6:30 p.m. home game against Northwestern State. The Tigers have won 19 of the past 20 meetings against the Demons with the only loss coming in 2011. That kind of history suggests LSU should win this game, and they should, but the Demons cannot be taken lightly, especially considering LSU’s injury situation and upcoming schedule. As mentioned yesterday, AJ Labas and Nick Storz are both battling shoulder issues, leaving LSU with few options for tonight. Compounding the problem is the fact that LSU’s series at Auburn this week begins on Thursday instead of the usual Friday.

3. Here’s a look at this week’s schedule and coverage:

May 15 (Tue.) – NORTHWESTERN STATE, 6:30 p.m. (SECN +)
May 17 (Thu.) – at Auburn, 6 p.m. CT (ESPNU)
May 18 (Fri.) – at Auburn, 6 p.m. CT (SEC Network)
May 19 (Sat.) –  at Auburn, 1 p.m. CT (SECN +) 

4. So who does LSU turn to for tonight’s start? The answer is Matthew Beck (1-1, 3.91 ERA, 23.0 IP, 16 BB, 32 SO). This is the LSU sophomore right-hander’s moment to shine as a strong performance from him tonight could have a big impact on this weekend’s games by saving arms. Beck will face off against Northwestern State’s junior lefty Tyler Pigott (1-0, 4.37 ERA, 22.2 IP, 5 BB, 20 SO). This will be Pigott’s second career start for the Demons. He is allowing just a .210 opponent batting average in 22.2 innings of work this season.

5. At this point in the season the Tigers just have to take one game at a time, but as fans, sometimes it’s fun to look ahead at potential future scenarios. Yesterday, I mentioned that if the SEC Tournament started today, LSU would be the sixth seed, but there is at least one unlikely scenario where LSU could land a top-four seed and thereby earn a bye in the tournament’s first round. According to LSU’s Todd Politz, these four things would have to happen: 1) LSU wins two at Auburn; 2) Arkansas wins three at Georgia; 3) OM wins one or more at Alabama, and 4) South Carolina wins no more than one at Texas A&M. That’s probably best-case scenario. On the flip side, LSU could fall to ninth or lower (and miss the NCAA Tournament) if it doesn’t win a game at Auburn, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

6. Congratulations to LSU freshman outfielder Daniel Cabrera who was named SEC Baseball Freshman of the Week. The honor is well-deserved for the product of Baton who hit .769 (10-for-13) in four games last week with two doubles, one triple, two homers and 10 RBI. In the Tigers’ series victory over Alabama, Cabrera hit .700 (7-for-10) with two doubles, one triple, one homer and six RBI. He was 2-for-2 at the plate in Sunday’s series-clinching win over the Tide with a two-run homer, one double, one walk and four RBI. Get this: Through LSU’s last seven games, Cabrera is hitting .667 (14-for-21) with two doubles, one triple, two homers and 13 RBI. He’s currently batting .333 on the season and leads LSU in RBI with 44.

7. In football recruiting, there is still no news to pass along on Ohio State graduate transfer quarterback Joe Burrow. Fans are understandably eager to see how this plays out since Barrow has two years of immediate eligibility and could be an immediate difference-maker wherever he signs. As of now it still looks like an LSU-Cincinnati decision, as there’s been no news of other schools being granted permission to speak to him. As soon as there’s news to pass along, we’ll share it. 

8. As discussed before, cornerback is a major position of need in LSU’s 2019 classMaurice Hampton of Memphis, Tenn, is currently LSU’s sole cornerback commit and he’s getting a lot of attention at another sport, baseball. Hampton, a centerfielder on the diamond, has said that he intends to play both sports at LSU, but one has to wonder how much of a push Major League Baseball will make for him. Yesterday, Hampton was invited to the prestigious USA Baseball Tournament of Stars.  

9. Here’s one more recruiting tidbit that will help tide over fellow recruitniks: an article by Shea Dixon who gives 247Sports’ Crystal Ball Outlook on Louisiana’s Top 10 prospects. You’ll notice it shows Dunham’s Derek Stingley as the nation’s No. 2 cornerback but he has since risen to No. 1 at the position in their latest national rankings. Stingley, a one-time LSU commit, is a must-get for LSU and from what I understand LSU still likes where it stands with him.

10. Speaking of outstanding cornerbacks, ProFootballFocus.com tweeted yesterday that LSU sophomore Greedy Williams returns with the lowest passer rating when targeted among returning SEC CBs. As Tiger fans, we already knew that he was something special, but it’s always nice to see analytical proof.

 11. The Supreme Court has struck down a federal anti-sports gambling law and states now have the go-ahead to allow sports betting. The Advocate reports that about 32 states are considered likely to offer sports betting within five years, according to one research firm, but Louisiana is not one of those states. I’ve never been a betting man and I generally avoid politics on this site, so I’ll just leave it at that.

12. Former LSU offensive tackle, KJ Malone, has announced that he is retiring from football to further his career in law enforcement. Malone, who signed with the Houston Texans as an undrafted free agent a few weeks ago, tweeted the following: “Thank you to the Houston Texans for an incredible opportunity. Due to my previous knee injury during my career at LSU I have not been able to recover and decided it was best to step away from the game of football and take time to heal. With that being said, I will further my career in Law Enforcement. Thank you, everyone, for all your support.” I know I speak for the Tiger Nation when I wish KJ all the best.

13. As the Lagniappe portion of this baker’s dozen: Remember those catfish pics I posted last week? Well, I completed the “creek-to-table” process last night by frying up those bad boys in former Tiger great Charlie Alexander’s C’Mon Man! Fish Fry. Soaked the filets in buttermilk, hot sauce and cajun seasoning, coated them in the Fish Fry, then fried them up in 350-degree oil. Fantastic! Nothing says spring to me like a meal of fried catfish accompanied by a few early homegrown veggies like new potatoes, fresh green beans, and cucumbers. Simple pleasures.  

Have a great day, Tiger Fans.


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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.

Here are the game’s video highlights and the complete box score.

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.

Closing Tidbits:

• 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.


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