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6/9/19 5:40 am CT

Good morning, Tiger Fans,

It’s “do or die” time for the LSU baseball team after losing 6-4 to Florida State in Game 1 of the NCAA Super Regional in Baton Rouge. Folks, this was a hard loss to swallow. The Tigers lost their ace pitcher, Cole Henry, after two scoreless innings, used five pitchers out of the pen, gave up ten walks, committed one – possibly two– costly base-running gaffs, and missed several scoring opportunities. As a result, the Tigers’ blew a 4-0 fifth-inning lead by allowing six unanswered runs, four of which came on a pair of home runs by Florida State’s Reese Albert off of Devin Fontenot and Zach Hess.  

After retiring the Seminoles on only nine pitches to begin the game, Cole Henry ran into trouble in the second. His velocity was down and his command was off. After walking the bases loaded, we escaped “unscathed” with a huge strikeout on a 1-2 breaking ball, but it was apparent that something wasn’t right. Speculation about what could be wrong grew when Coach Mainieri brought in Todd Peterson to start the third. After the game, it was revealed that Henry felt arm soreness in the first inning but didn’t say anything until after the second inning. That’s when Mainieri asked him how he felt, and he said “not too good” while pointing to his arm. “I’m not going to take any more chances with the kid when he tells you that,” Mainieri said after the game. “There was no decision to be made. He had to come out.”

Todd Peterson, the first reliever out of the pen, pitched admirably for four and one-third innings before being pulled in the seventh with the Tigers leading 4-1. For those asking why he was pulled, it’s probably because he had pitched a career-high 79 pitches and had just given up a one-out single. Besides, LSU’s bullpen had been pitching very well as of late, though you wouldn’t know it based on what transpired the rest of the day. Next out of the pen was Vietmeier who promptly gave up a walk and a game-tying three-run homer. Hess would give up another home run to the same hitter the following inning. All told, LSU’s pitching allowed two home runs and issued ten bases on balls, which is hard to overcome, especially when combined with missed opportunities at the plate and less than stellar base-running.

Here’s a quick rundown of how the scoring played out:

Offensively, LSU got on board in the second on hot-hitting Brant Broussard’s RBI single. Daniel Cabrera led the inning by getting hit by a pitch and Cade Beloso drew a one-out walk. After advancing into scoring position on a passed ball, Cabrera scored on Broussard’s blooper to shallow centerfield. LSU would manufacture another run to make it 2-0 in the third when Josh Smith led with a double and scored on groundouts by Watson and Duplantis. 

LSU tacked on another run in the fourth but should have had more. Saul Garza led by reaching on a fielding error and advanced to third on what appeared to be a double by Beloso. The problem was that Garza didn’t touch the base when rounding second and heading to third. So, instead of having two runners in scoring position and nobody out, LSU had a runner on second and one out. Beloso came home to score on Chris Reid’s single through the right side to make it 3-0 but had Garza been on third another run would have scored.

The Tigers’ fourth run came in the fifth on singles by Josh Smith, Zach Watson, and Daniel Cabrera. However, another out on the base paths left fans wondering if they could have had more. Watson was caught in a rundown and thrown out at second on Cabrera’s RBI when it looked like Florida State would instead try to gun-down Smith at the plate. After the game, Mainieri reportedly said that Watson wasn’t at fault and that players are taught to try to advance when there’s a play at the plate. 

Florida State’s first three runs came on the aforementioned home run off of Vietmeier in the seventh. They tacked on another run in the eighth when Matheu Nelson drew a one-out walk and came around to score after a single, another walk, and a sac fly. The Seminoles’ final run came on the solo homer off of Hess to open the ninth.

While the walks, homers allowed, and base running errors were devastating, there was more to the loss than that. The Tigers actually out-hit Florida State 8-6 but had several scoring opportunities that they failed to capitalize on, including putting the leadoff man on in each of the final three innings without scratching across a run.

Here’s the complete boxscore

As crushing as the loss was, the Tigers have to put it behind them and get ready to fight for their lives tonight. Landon Marceaux will get the start on the mound and Mainieri has said that he expects everyone in his bullpen besides Peterson to be available. First pitch is scheduled for 5 p.m. CT and will be televised on ESPN2.

Now for some better news on the football recruiting front. LSU picked up a big commitment yesterday when four-star safety Jordan Toles committed to head coach Ed Orgeron and the staff. Toles (6-3, 190, Baltimore, Maryland) is rated as a top-150 prospect (any position) and the No. 9 safety in the country, according to 247Sports Composite. As you’ll see in his video highlights, he can pedal and turn with ease, has good techniques, and is a hard-hitting, sure tackler. He also has very good hands and leaping ability, as you would expect from a top basketball player, which he is. In fact, he tells 247Sports that he intends to play basketball for Coach Will Wade. ESPN rates Toles as a three-star shooting guard. 

With Toles’s pledge, LSU’s 2020 class now contains 17 commitments and has jumped ahead of Alabama for the No. 2 spot behind Clemson in the 247Sports Composite team rankings. 

Moving on with our countdown to the start of LSU football, which is 83 days away, we’re going “combo” on this one. That’s because 80 (Jarvis Landry) + 3 (Odell Beckham, Jr.) = one of the most talented wide receiver tandems to even play at LSU.  Between their one-handed catches, game-breaking touchdowns, and highly-productive junior season in 2013, these two best friends were the most dangerous duo in LSU history.

Beckham finished his career with 143 catches for 2,340 yards and 12 touchdowns, with a 16.4 yards per catch average. He also took back a fourth-quarter punt 89 yards to beat Ole Miss, the same length as another such return against Ole Miss by Billy Cannon. Beckham also has the only field goal return for a TD with a 100-yard return for a score in 2013.

Landry made two of the sweetest one-handed catches in LSU history, both against Arkansas, one for a touchdown and one to convert an important fourth down in a narrow victory. He was a tough receiver who made difficult catches in traffic using a strong body and large hands. He had 137 catches for 1,809 yards and 15 TDs in his career with a 13.2 yards per catch average. 

Beckham was the No. 12 player taken in the 2014 draft by the New York Giants, and Landry went in the second round to Miami with the 63rd pick. But as destiny would have it, Landry was traded to Cleveland in the spring of 2018, and one year later, Beckham was also traded to the Browns. Adding yet another level of intrigue to this feel-good reunion story, their receivers coach at Cleveland is none other than the man who coached them as Tigers, former LSU wide receiver coach Adam Henry.

Check out our Media Gallery for Nike’s cool “Shared Dream” video featuring the longtime friends.

That’s it for now. Enjoy your Sunday and return tomorrow for what I hope will be a recap of a series-evening win in baseball.

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6/8/19 5:40 am CST

Good morning, Tiger Fans,

On a hot and humid day in south Louisiana, two of the most prominent programs in college baseball – LSU and Florida State – are set to face off at 2 p.m. in Super Regional action. If you’ve got weekend chores to do, get ’em done early because this is a series you don’t want to miss. Two blue-blood programs featuring two of the winningest coaches in the game (a combined 3,000+ wins between them) battling for a ticket to Omaha is good stuff, and I can hardly wait. If you’re not able to attend or tune in on ESPN today, be sure to follow DandyDonLSU on Twitter as I’ll be tweeting occasional score updates and comments. The game can also be heard on the LSU Sports Radio Network or online at LSUSports.net/live.

Today’s game will mark the Tigers’ 14th Super Regional appearance and their 11th Super Regional at home. Of those ten previous Super Regionals at home, the Tigers have won eight, which is pretty remarkable. The last one they lost was in 2016 when the Tigers went two-and-out with a pair of losses to underdog Coastal Carolina. It turns out those Chanticleers were pretty darn good, as evidenced by their wins over Florida, TCU, Texas Tech, and Arizona en route to their first National Championship. One thing that made Coastal so tough was its seasoned veteran leadership – something LSU had little of that year but has in droves this year. That experienced leadership ought to make for an emotional series this weekend for several Tigers playing their last games in Alex Box Stadium.

While veterans will surely be counted on in a big way to pull the Tigers through, Coach Mainieri will rely heavily on a pair of freshmen starting pitchers. Mainieri announced yesterday that Cole Henry will get the start today and fellow freshman Landon Marceaux will start tomorrow. Junior Eric Walker is in like to start Monday’s “if-needed” game, as you’ll see in the Game Notes below:

PITCHING MATCHUPS

Saturday, 2 p.m. CT, ESPN
LSU – Fr. RH Cole Henry (4-2, 3.51 ERA, 56.1 IP, 15 BB, 69 SO)
FSU – Jr. LH Drew Parrish (8-5, 5.07 ERA, 81.2 IP, 29 BB, 112 SO) 

Sunday, 5 p.m. CT, ESPN2
LSU – Fr. RH Landon Marceaux (5-2, 4.64 ERA, 54.1 IP, 19 BB, 41 SO)
FSU – So. RH CJ Van Eyk (10-3, 3.71 ERA, 87.1 IP, 37 BB, 115 SO) 

Monday, 7:30 p.m. CT, ESPN (if necessary)
LSU – So. RH Eric Walker (5-4, 5.47 ERA, 72.1 IP, 32 BB, 56 SO)
FSU – So. RH Conor Grady (9-5, 3.64 ERA, 59.1 IP, 24 BB, 67 SO) 

ABOUT THE SEMINOLES

• Florida State is coached by college baseball legend Mike Martin, who is in his 40th and final season with the Seminoles. Martin has the most career wins in NCAA history with 2,026

• The Seminoles won the Athens (Ga.) Regional last weekend with dominating victories over Florida Atlantic and Georgia (twice). FSU hit .375 (45-for-120) in the Regional with six doubles and ten homers, and outscored the opposition, 35-11, in their three games

• The Seminoles are hitting .274 on the season with 79 homers and 45 steals in 60 attempts. They’re led at the plate by senior infielder Mike Salvatore, who is hitting .341 with 22 doubles, four triples, seven homers, and 50 RBI. Freshman outfielder Robby Martin is batting .340 with 54 RBI, junior infielder Drew Mendoza has team-highs of 16 homers and 55 RBI, and junior outfielder J.C. Flowers has 13 homers and 53 RBI. Flowers, a right-hander, is also FSU’s closer, and he has 11 saves this season.

• FSU pitchers Drew Parrish and CJ Van Eyk, the Seminoles’ starting pitchers in Games 1 and 2, both played for LSU coach Paul Mainieri last summer when Mainieri served as head coach of the U.S. Collegiate National Team.

• It’s noteworthy that FSU coach Mike Martin is not pitching Van Eyk tonight, as he has been their most effective pitcher this season. He’s saving him for Game 2 and will instead throw southpaw Parrish today. LSU is batting .254 against lefties this year, which is 20-hundredths below its overall average (.274). The Tigers are hitting .283 against right-handers. 

ABOUT THE TIGERS

• Senior right-fielder Antoine Duplantis is LSU’s career leader in hits (354), games played (267), triples (16) and at-bats (1,098). He is second all-time in NCAA Division I at-bats -- the NCAA Division I record for career at-bats is 1,114 by John Fishel of Cal State Fullerton (1982-85).

• LSU catcher Saul Garza is currently the Tigers hottest hitter. The sophomore catcher raised his batting average from .188 on April 23 to .309 entering the NCAA Super Regional and is batting .417 (30-for-72) since April 23 (20 games) with seven doubles, four homers, 15 RBI and 13 runs. In LSU’s eight postseason games (SEC & NCAA combined), Garza is hitting .484 (15-for-31) with six doubles, seven RBI and five runs.

• A bit more on Garza: I noted above that LSU is throwing a lefty tonight. Garza is not only LSU’s hottest hitter, but he’s also far and away LSU’s leading hitter against southpaws with a .386 average against lefties. Zach Watson (.338) and Josh Smith (.303) give LSU a total of three players hitting over .300 against left-handed pitching.

• Second baseman Brandt Broussard has also been on a roll lately and enters the Super Regional with an eight-game hitting streak. He’s batting .444 (12-for-27) in LSU’s 2019 postseason games (SEC & NCAA combined) with two doubles, one homer, five RBI, eight runs and three stolen bases. Broussard hit .429 (6-for-14) in the 2019 NCAA Baton Rouge Regional with one double, one homer, four RBI and three runs.

SERIES RECORD VS. FLORIDA STATE

LSU and Florida State have met 18 times since 1955, with each team claiming nine wins. This weekend’s Super Regional marks the seventh meeting between the schools in the NCAA Tournament, with each team capturing three victories in the prior six games. Florida State defeated LSU, 4-2, in the 1975 Starkville (Miss.) Regional; LSU posted a 6-2 win over FSU in the 1987 CWS; FSU defeated LSU, 6-3, in the 1994 CWS; the Tigers posted a 6-3 win over the Seminoles in the 2000 CWS, and LSU recorded two wins over FSU (5-4, 7-4) in the 2017 CWS. This weekend marks FSU’s first trip to Louisiana to play LSU since March 3, 1991, when the Seminoles posted an 8-0 win over the Tigers at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans. It also marks FSU’s first trip to Baton Rouge since 1983, when the Seminoles posted two wins over the Tigers (8-2, 6-3) to conclude LSU’s regular season.

Most of the above information is courtesy of LSU’s Sports Information Department.

In football news, I mentioned earlier in the week that LSU would be hosting five prospects on official visits this weekend, but I’ve since learned of a sixth – safety Jordan Toles of Maryland. LSU doesn’t currently have a safety committed in this year’s class, and safeties coach Bill Busch has made Toles a big priority. (LSU’s most recent commitment, Major Burns, is listed as a safety on many sites but, from what I understand, LSU is recruiting him as a cornerback.) LSU’s other five recruits who are reportedly taking official visits to LSU this weekend are five-star RB Kendall Milton of Clovis, California, DT Vernon Broughton of Houston, WR E.J. Williams of Phenix City, Ala., and a pair of JUCO targets – CB Marco Domio and SDE Ali Gaye. 

Another prospect who was in town yesterday is tight end Calev Fauria of Massachusetts who is being recruited by LSU passing game coordinator Joe Brady. I don’t yet know if he was an official or unofficial visit, but either way, it’s great to see that he was on campus. I’ve been told that his father is Christian Fauria, who played ten years in the NFL and was a two-time Super Bowl champion with the Patriots. LSU needs a tight end in this class and he looks like a great prospect. 

Now for the continuation of our countdown to the start of LSU football. Before getting to today’s topic, I want to mention that the reader-submitted feature on Charles Williamson was extremely well received. If any of you would like to send in personal write-ups on friends or family members who could be featured, or on your personal experiences, they would be very welcomed as they make my job easier and are a win-win for all parties. 

For today’s brief 84-day countdown topic, we go back in the time machine to the year 1984, which marked the start of the Bill Arnsparger era at LSU. That first season under the new head coach began a five-year run in which LSU won two SEC titles (1986, 1988). LSU went 44-13-3 in that span, and 26-8-2 in the three years Arnsparger coached. 

The 1984 Tigers went out to USC’s Coliseum and thumped the then-dominant Trojans, 23-3. They also scored a big 16-14 upset over No. 9 Alabama. Stud defensive players like Michael Brooks, Jeffrey Dale and Shawn Burks patrolled the defense while quarterback Jeff Wickersham operated a wide-open, pro-style offense that averaged 205 yards passing, a number unheard of for the run-oriented Tiger teams of the past. Wickersham threw 12 TD passes, and former running back Eric Martin burst out as a receiving option with 47 catches for 668 yards. By the way, Wickersham’s daughter, Shelby Wickersham, is a member of the LSU softball team and earned freshman All-SEC honors this year.

Closing Tidbits:

• In track and field, congratulations to Sha’Carri Richardson, LSU’s freshman sprinter from Texas who accomplished something that no female sprinter in the world had ever accomplished. She won the 100 meters in 10.99 and the 200 meters in 22.36. No female sprinter had ever run the 100 meters under 11 flat and the 200 meters in under 23 flat on the same day. Likewise, congratulations to LSU sophomore JuVaughn Harrison who last night became the first man in NCAA Outdoor Championships history, a meet that dates back to 1921, to win both the long and high jump national titles at the same meet. (And thanks to Dandy Don reader and former Tiger track and field legend Billy Hardin, a 1964 Olympian, for reminding me to post this!)

• Lastly, a little lagniappe that seems fitting to close things out. As many of you know, Louisiana lost a musical icon yesterday with the passing of legendary New Orleans artist, Dr. John. Here’s his rendition of Take Me Out to The Ball Game.

Enjoy your Saturday, Tiger Fans.

Reader Comments: Hey Scott long time reader. Just wanted to pass along some great news. I am Ryan Eades’ uncle and wanted to let you know and all Tiger fans know that he just got called up tonight to the big league club (Minnesota Twins) from AAA Rochester! Thanks again and GEAUX TIGERS!



 

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