The LSU baseball team did what they were expected to do before the season started, win the SEC. Not the regular season, but the post season SEC tournament. The Tigers became the first team in tournament history to be seeded eight and win the whole thing.
Last week I said in this column that the season had been a disappointment. However, I also said, “Now that LSU is in the tournament, what can they do? This past weekend Anthony Ranaudo looked as good as he has looked all season. If he can throw like that Wednesday against Florida, the Tigers could make some serious noise in the SEC tournament. The history of the tournament says lower seeds win a lot of first round games. The higher seeds are already guaranteed an NCAA invite. The lower seeds are still trying to impress the selection committee. My guess is that LSU will squeak by Florida in a close game. That should guarantee an NCAA bid if they don’t already have one. This team does have some talent and hopefully they can put it together in the post-season in order to salvage a very disappointing regular season.”
The players who had been counted on this season and had not come through before the tournament did come through for LSU in the tournament, to the relief of LSU fans. Ranaudo not only looked good against Florida, but his pitching was outstanding versus Alabama in the championship game and saved it. Matty Ott saved the game versus Vandy in the second round and looked better than he has the last couple of months. Blake Dean hit 8-15 for a .533 average with one home run and four RBIs. Yes, others also came through for the Tigers like Ben Alsup, Tyler Hanover, and MVP Austin Nola. However, it was the play of the Big 3 that led the Tigers to this tournament championship.
Who did LSU make mad?
I was a little surprised Sunday when they announced the sixteen regional sites and LSU was not selected. You would think that tradition would have a little say so. However, I wasn’t too critical for the Tigers being left out. The Tigers did play very poorly for four weeks in a row. However, they did WIN the SEC tournament. In any case the Tigers are traveling to a regional for the first time since they went to Texas A&M in 1989.
I don’t know whom LSU made mad, but they are being sent all the way out west to play at UCLA as the #2 seed. In the first game, they will face Cal State-Irvine. Do you think Irvine might have a little revenge on their minds after the Tigers rallied to defeat them two years ago to advance to Omaha?
Also, so much for wanting to hold down travel costs. LSU is sent to Los Angeles as a #2 seed and Cal is sent to Oklahoma as a #2 seed. Shouldn’t it be just the opposite?
Anyway, the Tigers will have a tough job to win this regional. On the plus side, the Tigers will not be in a very hostile environment compared to venues in the SEC. Also, right now “Big Mo” is on their side.
The Tigers will be traveling for a regional for the first time in many of these players’ lifetimes. We will have to see if this Tiger team responds the way LSU responded at Texas A&M, in winning two games in one day against an A&M team that had only lost three games up until that time all year.