4/21/19 5:55 am CST
Good morning, Tiger Fans, and Happy Easter,
Coach Paul Mainieri said his Tigers always start to play their best ball after tax day. Well, after losing to UL-Lafayette last week and then getting dominated in Game 1 of this weekend’s series, many fans doubted that would hold true this year and began writing off the Tigers. Not so fast!
Following an outstanding win in Game 2 that put LSU in position to claim a critical series win, starting pitcher Eric Walker was fantastic and LSU’s bats remained hot in a dominant 11-2 victory over Florida. With the series win, the Tigers improved to 26-15 overall, 11-7 in the SEC, and remain squarely in the hunt for the overall conference championship.
LSU came out swinging and scored three runs in each of the first three innings to jump out to a 9-0 lead. Josh Smith got things started with an emphatic double and came home to score on an RBI single by Antoine Duplantis. Those two at-bats foreshadowed what a big night it would be at the plate for LSU, and, more specifically, for those two Tigers.
Smith ended up going 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles, a home run, and two RBI. He also showed an element of leadership and aggression on the base paths that has sometimes been absent from this team. In the second inning, he stole third and came home to score on Duplantis’ single. In the third, he came around to score from second base on an infield single by Duplantis. As for Duplantis’ day at the plate, he ended up going 3-for-5 with four RBI.
As impressive as those two were, they weren’t alone in driving LSU’s offensive outburst. Daniel Cabrera went 2-for-4 with an RBI, and a trio of freshmen – Cade Beloso, CJ Willis, and Drew Bianco – each drove in a run. All told, LSU collected 11 hits on the night, but more importantly, they got the hits when they needed them. LSU hit .417 (5-for-12) with runners in scoring position and .667 (4-for-6) with runners on third and less than two outs.
For the second night in a row, LSU’s pitching was great. Eric Walker got the start on the mound and was outstanding. In 5.2 innings of work, he allowed just two earned runs (both came on one swing of the bat) on six hits while recording five strikeouts. After the game, Mainieri said Walker probably could have gone another inning, but he wanted to give Zack Hess and Devin Fontenot some work. Hess came out of the bullpen to end the sixth and pitched 2.1 scoreless innings, allowing just two hits while striking out three. Fontenot pitched the ninth and recorded a strikeout to end the game. Overall, an outstanding day on the mound.
Here are LSU’s video highlights and the complete box score.
Next up, the Tigers return to The Box Tuesday night for a matchup with Lamar. First pitch is set for 6:30 p.m. CT and the game will be streamed on SECN+.
It was also a big day on the football recruiting front. As expected, LSU picked up a huge commitment when four-star wide receiver Jermaine Burton, Jr. (6-1, 193) of Calabasas, California announced his verbal pledge to the Tigers with this elaborate commitment video. Make no mistake about it, Burton is a big-time wide receiver, a great get for LSU, and yet another feather in the cap of safety coach Bill Busch who is the lead recruiter in that area. Burton, the third California prospect to commit to LSU, chose the Tigers over offers from Alabama, Georgia, Miami, and others. You can see for yourself what an outstanding prospect he is by watching Burton’s video highlights. You can also take the word of a DandyDon reader and friend of mine who wishes to remain anonymous but is a longtime scout at the highest level. He provided the following take on Burton:
With Burton’s pledge, LSU’s recruiting class now contains 12 commitments and is ranked No. 2 in the nation in 247Sports’ composite rankings, second to only you-know-who.
Lastly, big congratulations to LSU gymnastics for an incredible, historic season. Coach D-D Breaux’s Tigers delivered an outstanding performance and scored a 197.825 for the highest finish in school history. It was enough to earn the program its third National Runner-Up title in four years, but once again not enough to overcome juggernaut Oklahoma. The Sooners posted a 198.3375, the second-best score ever in an NCAA final. Coming in at third, behind LSU, were the defending national champion UCLA Bruins. Denver came in fourth. Here’s a complete recap with video highlights.
“I could not have asked this team for a better performance,” LSU gymnastics head coach D-D Breaux said. “They outperformed themselves from the semifinal. We gave it all we had and there is nothing wrong with finishing second to a great Oklahoma team. I am taking a lot of pride in this second-place finish and great season.”
I know I speak for Tiger fans everywhere when I say thank you, ladies, for a job well done. You’ve made the Tiger Nation proud.
• As I do most weeks when there’s not a baseball game on Sunday, I invite you to send your comments and questions for tomorrow’s Mail Call. With a new AD, a big series win in baseball, and plenty of action on the recruiting front, there should be no shortage of topics to consider. Of course, if you want to lob me an easy-hitter, you can ask about my garden.
• Need another good read to go along with that second cup of morning joe? Here’s one by the Advocate on LSU’s new athletic director, Scott Woodward: The story of Louisiana's son who has 'mud instead of blood in his veins.
I’d like to once again wish you all a very blessed Easter Sunday. Those of you who’ve followed this site for a while know that I’m a bit of a traditionalist, and I get a little reminiscent around the holidays, especially this one which calls to mind so many family traditions. As a kid, we would always get up early to see what the Easter Bunny brought, and then head to the early Easter mass before gathering with our extended family to share a good meal. And of course, we would always pâques-pâques eggs. For those who haven’t read my explanation of this Cajun tradition (I share it each year) or have forgotten what it’s about, “pocking” eggs is a contest whereby one person holds his hardboiled, dyed Easter egg, small side up, while the opponent takes his own egg, small end down, and gently knocks it against the other egg repeatedly. The loser (the person whose egg cracks) has to surrender his cracked egg to the winner. The term pâques-pâques (pronounced pock-pock) is derived not only from the sound the eggs make, but also from the word for Easter in French, Pâques. We used to always do this at my MawMaw and PawPaw Ardoin’s house in Ville Platte, and it seems like their country eggs would always beat our store-bought ones. We’ll carry on those same traditions today, but now maybe my family will have the advantage since I raise a few backyard chickens. Anyway, I digress. However you spend this day, make it a special one, and remember that Easter is about a lot more than bunnies and eggs.