NCAA Baseball Championships:
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3/13/19 5:40 am CST
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
On a spring-like night in Natchitoches, LSU’s bats went cold in a 3-1 loss to Northwestern State. With the loss, LSU fell to 11-5 on the season, which is a far cry from where we expected them to be at this point. The story of this contest was LSU’s lack of production at the plate and a disastrous sixth inning for an LSU pitching staff that was outstanding in every other inning. But before saying any more, Northwestern State deserves a big tip of the hat for their pitching, especially starter Cullen McDonald who held LSU to one run on five hits in 7.1 innings of work.
After five outstanding hitless, scoreless innings by LSU pitchers Landon Marceaux and Ma’Khail Hilliard, things unraveled for the Tigers in the sixth. That’s when freshman Aaron George came in with a 1-0 lead and gave up back to back singles and a walk to load the bases. Mathew Beck inherited the mess and seemed poised to get out of it after retiring two in a row, but then a passed ball allowed one run to score and a 2-RBI double made it a 3-1 game, which is how it ended.
Much more concerning than that one rough inning of pitching was the Tigers’ lack of production at the plate. LSU’s only run of the night came in the first inning when Josh Smith walked, advanced to second on Zach Watson’s infield single, stole third, and scored on Chris Reid’s RBI groundout. The Tigers had a chance to rally in the eighth after loading the bases with two outs off of reliever Tyler Pigett, but Daniel Cabrera grounded out to end the Tiger threat. No two ways about it, LSU must get better offensively – and fast – with SEC set to begin this weekend versus Kentucky.
While a loss to an in-state rival is always hard to stomach, there were a few bright spots for LSU. The most significant was the pitching of starter Landon Marceaux. I wrote yesterday that what we should be hoping to see is Marceaux throw three or four strong, efficient innings and then exit the game so that he could be used this weekend. That’s exactly what we saw. Marceaux logged three perfect, scoreless, hitless innings in which he retired nine straight and logged three strikeouts. Marceaux did that while throwing only 31 pitches, and there’s no telling how different the game might have gone had he been kept in for a few more innings. But that was never in the cards, and understandably so. It was also great to see Hilliard and Trent Vietmeir throw three combined scoreless innings, and especially good to see Todd Peterson bounce back with an outstanding inning of work in which he looked very sharp striking out the side in order. Interestingly, this was the third consecutive game in which LSU pitching held the opponent scoreless in all but one inning.
LSU will return to action tonight at 6:30 p.m. against Texas Southern at the Box. With a big SEC series coming this weekend, it will be interesting to see how LSU approaches the game from a pitching standpoint. One thing is sure: Whether he admits it or not, winning tonight’s game will be much less important to Coach Paul Mainieri than keeping sufficient pitching options available for this weekend’s SEC series. As of now, Mainieri hasn’t announced who he plans to send to the mound tonight.
Turning to football, LSU practiced in pads for the first time this spring and DandyDon contributor Jim Kleinpeter was out there to shoot some video and provide the following report.
– The Big Cat is back. Some of the players requested bringing back the old Les Miles staple for toughness. The media weren't allowed to watch or tape it, but we can confirm that there were several rousing cheers once the action spilled into the onlooking players.
Side note: If you appreciate excellent photography, here are some super pics of the big cat drill by LSU photographer Chris Parent.
– One notable difference this spring is LSU’s new wide receivers coach Joe Brady. He’s quite chatty, never stops and he sees every little mistake, as you can see in the video. “There’s no such thing as a little thing,” he barked when a player’s foot was over the starting line on a drill. “You guys are receivers; we shouldn’t have to coach catching the ball.”
– Often it was as simple as “quick, quick” or “pick ’em up and put ’em down." His predecessor, Jerry Sullivan had great energy at 73 years old, but the 28-year-old Brady is at a whole other level.
– Another noticeable change is some new drills for the quarterbacks in the individual part of practice. In a skeleton set, the quarterback takes a snap and hands to a running back on a dive play then a manager flips him another ball and he makes a pass to the side while still running. This is an RPO-style play we've been hearing about.
– In another new passing drill, a receiver stands at a spot where he would catch a slant while the quarterback takes a snap, fakes a handoff, and throws the slant. It looks like LSU will be opening up the playbook a little bit with Joe Burrow being much more comfortable in the driver's seat.
– Coach Ed Orgeron was vocal as usual and worked one-on-one with the defensive linemen.
– LSU players were available for interviews before practice. The Advocate's Brooks Kubena tweeted that Kary Vincent said the DB “Chemistry has been great,” and that freshman Derrick Stingley is a “once in a lifetime" player.”
– Tight end Thaddeus Moss was a full participant in practice. Fellow tight end Jamal Pettigrew and linebacker Patrick Queen were in gold non-contact jerseys. Wide receiver Derrick Dillon was on crutches and linebacker K’Lavon Chaisson watched their position groups from the side.
– Running backs rep order was Clyde Edwards-Helaire, followed by Chris Curry, Tae Provens and Tory Carter during passing drills.
In basketball news, there’s nothing much to report concerning Javonté Smart’s status or Will Wade’s suspension. Coach Bradford said that Smart practiced with the team yesterday and that he hopes to know something on Smart’s availability between now and Thursday. One thing he did seem confident of is that Naz Reid is good to go for LSU’s SEC Tournament action which begins Friday at noon.
While on the topic of basketball, a trio of SEC champions received well-deserved recognition by SEC coaches in this year's awards. Tremont Waters was named to the All-SEC first team and the All-Defensive team, while also garnering Co-Defensive Player of the Year honors. Naz Reid made the All-SEC freshman team, while Skylar Mays made the All-SEC second team. As noted yesterday, Mays was also named Scholar-Athlete of the Year. Hats off to all of these Tigers.
• LSU football is a step closer to getting down within the NCAA’s 85 man scholarship limit now that cornerback Mannie Netherly has entered his name into the NCAA Transfer Portal. This news, which comes one day after tight end/outside linebacker Dantrieze Scott entered the portal, brings LSU’s total number of players in the portal to four. The other two are defensive linemen Dominic Livingston and Davin Cotton who announced their interest in transferring in February.
• Former Tiger great Odell Beckham, Jr. is being traded by the New York Giants to the Cleveland Browns, according to a report by NFL Network. The trade unites Beckham with his former teammate and fellow Tiger great, Jarvis Landry. In exchange for Beckham, the Giants will receive the No. 17 overall pick, a third-round pick and safety Jabrill Peppers.
• Check out LSU dual-sport commit Maurice Hampton hitting a home run in his first at-bat as senior at Memphis University High School. Hampton is committed to LSU football as a defensive back and LSU baseball as a power-hitting center fielder. Here’s hoping to see a few swings like that from him next year as an LSU Tiger.
• Lastly, here’s an article by NOLA.com’s Brody Miller that I’m sure many LSU baseball fans will enjoy: The many stories of Chris Reid: Tales from the career of an LSU cult hero
Have a great day, Tiger Fans.
3/12/19 5:30 am CST
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
Tuesday Tidbits: Your Daily Dose of Tiger News Delivered in a Baker’s Dozen Quick Hitters
1. After beating Florida on the road and Vanderbilt at home to win the program’s first SEC title in a decade, LSU basketball (26-5) moved up one spot to No. 9 in this week’s AP Top 25 and the Coaches Poll. This marks the first time LSU has been a top-10 team in back-to-back weeks since the start of the 2007 season.
2. As you know all too well, LSU played the game without head coach Will Wade, who was suspended indefinitely by university officials in the wake of his alleged involvement in a college basketball recruiting scandal. Tony Benford took over as interim head coach, and it sounds like he’ll remain in that position for the foreseeable future. During yesterday’s SEC Coaches Teleconference, Benford said that he plans on coaching the team in the SEC Tournament.
3. According to Benford, the team is expecting a status update on Javonté Smart to come by today (Tuesday). He also suggested that Naz Reid will likely return to action this Friday when the Tigers begin SEC Tournament play at noon against either Florida or Arkansas.
4. In other basketball news, congratulations to LSU guard Skylar Mays for being named a First Team Academic All-American. Mays, a Baton Rouge product and one of the leaders of this Tiger team, is averaging in double figures on the court while maintaining a 4.01 GPA average in pre-med/kinesiology. That’s impressive, my friends!
5. Turning to baseball, after defeating Holy Cross and winning two-out-of-three against California, LSU dropped one spot to No. 10 in Collegiate Baseball’s poll and stayed put at 13 and 14 in polls by D1 Baseball and Perfect Game, respectively.
6. Coach Paul Mainieri’s Tigers will begin SEC play later this week, but first, they return to action tonight at Northwestern State and tomorrow against Texas Southern. Here’s a look at this week’s schedule:
March 12 (Tue.) – at Northwestern State, 6 p.m. CT (ESPN+)
March 13 (Wed.) – TEXAS SOUTHERN, 6:30 p.m. CT (SECN+)
March 15 (Fri.) – KENTUCKY, 7 p.m. CT (SECN+)
March 16 (Sat.) – KENTUCKY, 6:30 p.m. CT (SECN+)
March 17 (Sat.) – KENTUCKY, 2 p.m. CT (SECN+)
7. LSU leads the series with Northwestern State, 59-11, and the Tigers have won 21 of the past 22 meetings, including two wins over the Demons last season, but as you might recall, it took a five-run ninth inning rally for LSU to beat the Demons last June in an elimination game at the NCAA Corvallis (Ore.) Regional. You’d better believe the Demons will be fired up to take on the Tigers on their home turf.
Side Note: Let me just slip this in right here: For all of you fans heading out to Natchitoches for tonight’s baseball game, here’s something to note. A buddy of mine is involved with a new brewery, Cane River Brewery on Mill Street, and its taproom will open at 4:00. All are welcome.
8. Freshman Landon Marceaux will get the start on the mound for the Tigers tonight and how he looks could say a lot about how this weekend’s rotation looks. What we should hope to see is Marceaux throw three or four strong, efficient innings and then exit the game. That would likely mean that he’s done enough to regain Mainieri’s confidence in using him as a starter this weekend.
9. Speaking to local media yesterday, Mainieri provided a bit of an update on the team’s health. The frustrating news is that second baseman Brandt Broussard sprained his ankle in the team’s celebratory dog-pile Friday night after Josh Smith’s walk-ff RBI. The good news is that Mainieri reportedly feels good about right-hander Cole Henry's back and said Henry has felt better each day. Henry will probably throw some later this week, and the staff will see how he feels before making any determination on his return to action. Also, reports indicate that catcher Saul Garza is nearing a return behind the plate and the hope is that he can catch his first game next week.
10. In football news, LSU freshman OLB/TE Dantrieze Scott has entered the transfer portal. You always hate to see a player go, but the reality is some attrition is a needed part of roster management. Brody Miller of NOLA.com tweeted that LSU expects to need to lose two more players to meet the 85-man roster limit.
11. A couple of former Tiger football players are about to be crazy rich. Reports indicate that the 49ers are signing linebacker Kwon Alexander to a 4-year deal worth $54M and that safety Tyrann Mathieu intends to sign a three-year, $42M deal with the Chiefs.
12. In other football news, The Athletic reports longtime NFL assistant coach Roy Anderson has joined the LSU staff as an analyst. Anderson, 38, worked as a graduate assistant under former LSU head coach Nick Saban and has spent the last 14 years as an assistant in the NFL with the Baltimore Ravens, Indianapolis Colts, San Francisco 49ers, and the Bears. He’s worked primarily with safeties throughout his coaching career.
13. Lagniappe: NCAA Champs, SEC Champs, a Perfect 10 and more are all included in this week’s LSU Top Plays video, which you can check out here. Despite all the noise on the basketball front, it’s still a great time to be a Tiger!
Have a great day, Tiger Fans!
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