NCAA Baseball Championships:
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5/13/19 5:40 am CST
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
It was great to hear from many of you yesterday. I asked for your comments and questions, and you delivered! As promised, I’ve selected a few to share with you today, along with my responses.
DANDYDON.COM’S MONDAY MORNING MAIL CALL
From Scott R.: Noticed in your update where Caleb Gilbert had received his Civil Engineering degree. I had forgotten about him. What’s his status on the team? Has he been injured? Recovering from surgery? Daily reader for years, enjoy your website!
My Response: Great question, Scott. Gilbert is still on the team but his situation is a strange one. Here’s how I understand it. After having a solid 2017 season, Gilbert’s velocity plunged last year. He struggled on the mound, lost his spot in the weekend rotation, and it was obvious that something wasn’t right. After the season, he underwent surgery to clean out his shoulder. The expectation was that he would miss fall ball and be ready to pitch this season. The problem is, he hasn’t been the same since the surgery. In this article by Tiger Rag, coach Mainieri is quoted as saying, “Caleb is kind of struggling right now with his mechanics and his confidence, those types of things… He’s not having any pain at all. He’s just not quite ready to pitch. He’s trying to figure it out again.” I know it sounds weird, but sometimes a pitcher has to relearn to pitch after a procedure like that, and for some it takes longer than others.
From Anthony: Was great to salvage one win in Arkansas, but if Duplantis’ homer hadn’t cleared the fence by mere inches we would be talking about a streak of 6 losses. Has LSU ever lost 6 in a row before? Heck, have they ever lost 5?
My Response: Baseball is a game of inches, Anthony, so don’t discount Duplantis’ clutch game-winner just because it barely cleared the fence. But I get your drift. As for your question, yes, LSU has lost five games in a row, and they’ve lost six in a row, too. In fact, each of those losing streaks occurred at different times at the end of Coach Mainieri’s 2010 season. They lost seven in a row between April 24 and May 2 and then lost six in a row from May 8 through May 18. That made for 13 losses in 15 games. Talk about a slump! That team ended up winning its final series against Mississippi State and then winning the SEC Tournament.
From John: Scott, There are a lot of fans right now clamoring for a new baseball head coach. I personally think that is premature but what are your feelings on Paul’s short and long term prognosis as HC at LSU, his coaching staff, and how a new AD affects all of this. Thanks again for continuing to be the best place to read and view LSU sports.
My Response: Thank you, John. Like you, I think that kind of talk is premature. But I understand the fans’ frustration. It’s been ten years since a national title and this was supposed to be “the year” with so much talent returning and the No. 1 recruiting class coming in. Last season, and so far this season, have been “stale,” and if the rest of the season tanks, Mainieri’s seat will be warmer than it’s ever been in his time at LSU. Heck, it already is. As publisher of this site, I hear from a lot of fans and can assure you that Mainieri’s approval rating took a big dip last week and that you’re correct in stating that many folks are clamoring for change. But people forget that Mainieri is just one full season removed from playing in the national championship finals, and last year’s postseason finished with a loss to the national champion. With that in mind, I’d be extremely surprised to see the new AD take any action on this. If it were up to me, I’d consider a pitching coach change before a head coach change.
From Lenny: Dandy, I’ve been waiting for someone to bring up the issue of not having any left-handed pitchers the past two years. I don’t understand how this could happen? It’s killing us against many of these teams with great lefty hitters! Arkansas, Ole Miss, Texas A&M, etc. What’s going on with the recruiting of lefties! I see we only have one lefty committed for 2020? Help me out on this. I’m flabbergasted! Thanks!
My Response: Good question, Lenny. Let’s start by getting the facts straight. LSU did have a lefty on last year’s team. In fact, there were four of them. Nick Bush signed with the Rockies, Taylor Peterson transferred to Metropolitan State University shortly after the Corvallis Regional, John Kodros transferred to TCU, and Brandon Nowak is now at Mississippi College. And there is one lefty on this year’s roster, Easton McMurray, but he is still recovering from a season-ending shoulder surgery he had in February. He actually was first injured in high school and Coach Mainieri stuck by his offer and signed him. Early this year, it became apparent that his injury required surgery. The hope is he will be back next year. That said, yes, not having a lefty on this year’s team is definitely a roster management problem and has been troublesome. As of now, there are two southpaws I know of who are committed to LSU for the 2019 class, Jacob Hasty and Brandon Kaminer.
From Charlie: Scott: It amazes me that social media and websites have been so vitriolic towards this team and Coach Paul Manieri. Yes, I get the lack of perceived effort in some games, especially last Tuesday’s game against Louisiana Tech. That being said, some of the #FireCPM tweets and trashing of these players are gutless and classless. These same sissies will be the first to jump back on the bandwagon when the Tigers turn things around this year. And they will turn it around! The other thing about an overwhelming majority of these cowards is that they rarely buy a ticket to the games or are a member of any booster club or make TAF Contributions or Alumni Contributions. I believe one can be part of the problem or part of the solution. These fair weather fans are definitely part of the problem. Then, when some of these self-appointed experts say “we” suck and “we’re” terrible, I always respond with, “We? What is your number? What position do you play?” Look, I understand “we” as this is my team, etc. But when it’s used to divide the Tiger Nation, I draw a line. Ryan Theriot went on a six-minute rant this past Friday because he earned that privilege because he played and put himself in the arena and he understands what is involved. And on the same show, he showed praise and support for Coach Manieri. Coach Manieri has been, and still is, an outstanding coach. Just two years ago, he led this team to the finals of the CWS. He has consistently kept this team in the mix. Lest I remind you, the three coaches since Skip Bertman left coaching who have won more than one National Championship are Augie Guarido, Pat Casey, and Ray Tanner. None are still coaching, and Augie is no longer with us. No one has repeated a national championship since Ray Tanner in 2011. It is hard to win a Title, and it is hard to even get to the CWS. And to those who want to bring back Andy Cannizaro, I shake my head. There is still fight in this team and I have complete confidence in Coach Manieri. Geaux Tigers!
My Response: Thanks, Charlie, for sharing your opinion. I don’t have anything to add to it, but I appreciate you reminding me to share Theriot’s fiery comments after LSU 11-6 loss at Arkansas. I thought they were appropriate, and I respect his passion for the game and for the Tigers. (I hope the team heard them, too!) I didn’t catch the entire show, but I’m glad to know he showed praise and support for Mainieri. I also appreciate you pointing out that only one coach (Ray Tanner of South Carolina) repeated a national championship since Mainieri’s last title. That does indeed put things in perspective.
From Walter: Scott, I am concerned about the lack of heart I see on the baseball field. These kids are all great and I support them 1000% but there is something missing that was always on the field at LSU. Todd Peterson gave them that boost yesterday with his fire. Let’s hope one of the other TIGERS steps up and does the same in the games that are left in this season. GEAUX TIGERS
My Response: Thanks, Walter. I know what you’re talking about. I don’t know if “lack of heart” is the right phrase, but they have at times lacked that “fire in the belly” or “sense of urgency.” I was happy to see some of that “fire” from Zack Hess once he was moved back to the bullpen and I was happy to see it from Todd Peterson on Saturday. We also saw it from Antoine Duplantis when he slammed his helmet after popping up and then hit the game-winning home run in his next at-bat. And, of course, we saw it in the incredible ninth-inning rally that fell short when LSU hit back-to-back-to-back home runs to send the Ole Miss finale to extras. If they could play with that intensity and sense of urgency all the time, they would be a different team.
From Craig: What are the redshirt rules for baseball? Seems like Jaden Hill might be better served to sit out the rest of the year.
My Response: Excellent question, Craig. My understanding (based on this article I found online today) is that in baseball, unlike in football, playing in just one game disqualifies one from taking a redshirt year. If that’s accurate, Hill cannot take a redshirt. Now, a Hardship Waiver is another matter. That same article states that “players who suffer a season-ending injury or illness during the first half of the spring season may be eligible for a hardship waiver if they haven’t played in more than 30 percent of their team’s games.” Hill’s injury occurred right after his dominant performance against Bryant in late February, so I think that means he could qualify, but it’s probably a moot point. LSU needs Hill this year, and Coach Mainieri has said he’s hopeful to have him back for SEC tournament play.
From Virgil: LSU football’s 2020, “committed” recruiting class is looking extremely solid with the exception of one area, DEFENSIVE TACKLE! Only one talented player commit at the position thus far. Two of the top defensive tackle prospects in the nation are “AGAIN” right here in our home state. In your opinion, are we looking at another situation where the fight is already over and they’ve been instructed to keep mouths zipped on intentions until National Signing Day? Seems Alabama has top recruits “schooled” in this practice!
My Response: Virgil, I feel good about the two in-state DTs you’re referring to, Jacobian Guillory of Alexandria and Jaqueline Roy of University Lab. Of the two, I feel better about Guillory and don’t expect him to be one of those guys that keeps you guessing until Signing Day. I hear he’ll commit to his school of choice in June and that LSU feels good about its chances of landing him over Alabama and Texas. As for Roy, he was committed to LSU for six months before de-committing and deciding to take additional visits, but LSU is still very much in the picture. I’m not overly concerned about defensive tackle recruitment. My greatest concern about this recruiting class is offensive tackle. That’s a greater position of need and LSU only has one committed so far. They will have the nation’s very best OT visiting in a couple of weeks, Paris Johnson, Jr. of Cincinnati, and are in hot pursuit of several other elite OTs, including Marcus Dumervil of Fort Lauderdale.
Have a great day, Tiger Fans.
5/12/19 5:50 am CST
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
That’s more like it, Tigers! Solid pitching, error-free defense, and a clutch three-run homer by senior Antoine Duplantis gave LSU a much-needed 3-2 win over No. 5 Arkansas. After looking completely outmatched in the first two games of the series, the Tigers finally put together a complete game and played with a sense of urgency in the late innings to avoid the sweep. With the win, LSU improved to 31-21 overall and 15-12 in the SEC with four games remaining in the regular season. Perhaps as important, the Tigers departed Fayetteville with a heightened sense of confidence in two players who could make a big difference down the stretch, Landon Marceaux and Todd Peterson.
Marceaux got the start on the mound and gave LSU its best start in quite some time. After walking the leadoff man, who eventually came around to score, Marceaux settled in and pitched five complete innings. He eventually ran into some trouble in the sixth when Arkansas made it 2-0 on back-to-back doubles, and was replaced after issuing a walk to put two on. That’s when LSU brought in Todd Peterson, who turned in his best performance of the season.
Things started a little shaky for Peterson, as the first batter he faced roped a single through the right side to load the bases with no outs. At that point, it looked like the flood gates were about to open. But credit Peterson and LSU’s defense, which was sharp all day, for getting the Tigers out of the jam with two outs at the plate, including a beautiful 5-2-3 double play.
The score remained 2-0 Hogs through seven innings. As we headed into the eighth, I tweeted something to the effect that LSU’s pitching and defense had done its part, and that it was time to bring a sense of urgency to the plate. Right on cue, Hal Hughes, who had a heck of a day, led with his third hit of the game. Broussard followed with a one-out base on balls to put runners on first and second, and then Antoine Duplantis came to the plate. He had popped up in his previous at-bat and was fired up for a chance at redemption, and man did he deliver. With one swing of the bat, Duplantis gave LSU a one-run lead with a three-run homer over the right-field wall.
Todd Peterson retired the Razorbacks in order in the eighth and then worked around a one-out walk in the ninth to cap four strong, scoreless innings and earn the win.
“I’m so proud of our guys for giving a tremendous effort and getting a well-deserved win in a very hostile environment,” said coach Paul Mainieri. “There were so many great performances in this game – our players could have felt sorry for themselves after tough losses in the first two games of this series, but they came out fighting today, battling with every pitch.”
While the weekend as a whole was a rough one and it was disappointing to see LSU lose its first series against Arkansas since being swept by the Hogs in 2011, it did bring with it some positives. We saw Eric Walker have a solid start in Friday’s game, and then saw Marceaux and Peterson have very strong outings yesterday. On top of that, we’ve learned that there’s a good chance freshman ace Cole Henry could return to action this coming weekend and that Jaden Hill could be ready for the start of SEC play. If those two guys pick up where they left off, and if Peterson can continue to be the closer he was last night, the Tigers could make things interesting in post-season play. And make no mistake about it, there aren’t many teams out there as good as Arkansas.
I’m sure many of you will have something to say about that (or any other number of topics), so I invite you to send your comments and questions. Since there’s no baseball game to cover tomorrow, this might be a good time to run another Monday Morning Mail call, although might be briefer than usual due to today being Mother’s Day. My wife wouldn’t be too pleased if I spend much of today working on responses ;)
As I do most weeks, I’ll leave you with a good read to go along with your second cup of Sunday morning coffee. This one is especially appropriate for today as it’s Tiger Rag’s cover story from its 2019 Mother’s Day Issue, which is available on newsstands around Baton Rouge now: VAULTING INTO HISTORY: With the Help of his Trailblazing Mother, Pole Vaulting Sensation Armand “Mondo” Duplantis Seems Poised For Greatness At LSU And Beyond. Mrs. Duplantis must be awfully proud of her boys today. Antoine homered to win the game against Arkansas and Mondo won the SEC Track & Field Outdoor Championship’s pole vault at Arkansas’ facility while setting a Collegiate record of 19' 8 and 1/4". LSU won the men’s overall championship.
Lastly, I want to wish all of you mothers out there a Happy Mother’s Day. And 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.
Oh, and I updated out Ticket Exchange with a few new listings.
This web site is not officially affiliated with Louisiana State University. Opinions expressed herein are the property of Donald Long, Scott Long and friends, not Louisiana State University.