NCAA Baseball Championships:
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6/10/19 5:44 am CT
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
It’s over, and I miss it already.
LSU’s season that began with the highest of expectations came to an end last night in a gut-wrenching, extra-innings 5-4 loss to Florida State. It was devastating to see Florida walk it off in the 12th inning with a single off of reliever Devin Fontenot, who pitched his heart out in what was easily the best pitching performance LSU received all year. Fontenot pitched 6.1 innings of scoreless one-hit ball with 11 strikeouts before giving up the walk-off single in the 12th.
LSU showed a heck of a lot of fight to overcome a 4-1 sixth-inning deficit and send the game to extras, but just not quite enough to overcome a few critical mistakes that were the difference in the game. The first came in the second inning when the Seminoles loaded the bases with no outs on a walk and two singles off of Landon Marceaux. A tailor-made double play ball was hit to Cade Beloso at first, who stepped on the bag and made a great throw to home that was dropped by Saul Garza. Then there were base-running gaffs like when freshman Giovani DiGiacomo was picked off of third base in the sixth inning when LSU was riding a big wave of momentum, and when Zack Watson was thrown out at second trying to extend a clutch RBI single into a double. In DiGiacomo’s instance, the gaff squandered a ton of momentum LSU had built on three consecutive hits, including Antoine Duplantis’ RBI single which cut the Tigers’ deficit to two runs and loaded the bases. Had DiGiacomo not been picked off, LSU would have almost certainly plated another run on Beloso’s fly out to centerfield, which instead ended the inning. There was also a key passed ball in the 12th inning which put the Florida State’s Mike Salvatore in scoring position. Technically, it was ruled a “wild pitch,” but it was one Garza should have caught. Two batters later, Florida State power-hitter Drew Mendoza drove in Salvatore with a walk-off single.
Many of you asked after the game why Coach Paul Mainieri didn’t intentionally walk Mendoza since first base was open, and that’s a good question. After the game, Mainieri said he preferred having hard-throwing Fontenot pitch to Mendoza, a power hitter who has 69 strikeouts on the season and had been struggling with Fontenot’s velocity, rather than pitch to the hitter behind him, Robby Martin, who is more of a contact hitter with just as many RBI and fewer strikeouts.
“I am so proud of our guys, they just gave it everything they had,” said Coach Mainieri. “That performance by Devin Fontenot tonight. If we had won the ballgame, we would be talking about it 15 years from now. He gave everything he had for our team. I am so proud of how far Devin has come. It makes you excited about his future as we go forward. The toughest thing about this business is not just the losing and seeing the season come to an end, it is having to say goodbye to people that are such a big part of your life.”
Two of the many players Coach Mainieri and Tiger fans now have to say goodbye to are Antoine Duplantis and Josh Smith, who capped tremendous LSU careers with a strong night at the plate. Those two veterans either drove in or scored all four of LSU’s runs, one of which came on Duplantis’s 11th home run of the season. The all-time LSU hit leader ended the night 4-for-6 with three RBI and two runs scored. Smith ended 2-for-6 with two runs scored.
One last thought related to last night’s game: It was brought up during the broadcast that the previous three teams to eliminate LSU in the NCAA tournament – Oregon State, Florida, and Coastal Carolina – went on to win the College World Series. I sure do hope for Mike Martin’s sake that the trend continues this year. The legendary coach is a class act who deserves nothing less.
Later, maybe in a few days, we’ll take a retrospective look at all the highs and lows of LSU’s roller coaster season and look ahead to the future. But from a mental health standpoint, I’m not ready for that. LOL. No really, the creek is calling and I need to get up to north Louisiana to take care of a few things, including my potato patch. So, for the next two or three days, I’ll treat you to a multi-part series on LSU football in which Mike Detillier gives his thoughts on newcomers who will make the biggest impact, how different he expects LSU’s 2019 offense to be, and positions of greatest concern. And, of course, we’ll continue with our ongoing countdown to game day and pass along any newsy tidbits.
With 82 days remaining until the start of LSU football, today’s countdown topic takes us back to a game that made a lasting impression on me as a 12-year old in Tiger Stadium. Remembered by many as “The night it rained Oranges,” LSU thumped Florida State 55-21 in 1982 to win a berth in the Orange Bowl. LSU was coming off a 27-24 upset loss at Mississippi State but the Orange and Gator Bowls set up a deal with the LSU-Florida State winner getting the Orange and the loser the Gator. LSU was off and running on a 46-yard TD pass from Alan Risher to Dalton Hilliard. Two touchdowns before half put the Tigers up 28-14 at the break and they continued to roll in the second half as a fog settled over the field. Hilliard would finish with four touchdowns to give him 16 for the season, which broke the national record for touchdowns by a freshman previously shared by Georgia’s Herschel Walker and Hugh Kusserow of Columbia. Eric Martin caught scoring passes of 70 and 34 yards from Risher, and the Tiger defense held the visitors to seven points and 187 yards in the second half. It also took the ball away three times on fumbles. As the game wound down, fans wound up and pelted the field relentlessly with oranges. When the clock his zero, they stormed the field and tried to pull down the goalposts. What made the night all the more memorable for me as a 12-year old was seeing a somewhat elderly lady beside us get whacked in the head by an orange thrown from above, and seeing my Dad help her to her feet. It’s a moment I’ll never forget.
Lastly, a bit of recruiting news: Coach Ed Orgeron tweeted “Hold that Tiger” twice yesterday, indicating that LSU received two new commitments. The commitments have not yet been made public, but as soon as they are, I will tweet the news.
That’s it for now, but be sure to tune in tomorrow for Mike Detillier on LSU football.
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.
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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