LSU Enters Super Regional With Omaha Again In Sight
State of mind plays a major part in the level of success achieved by players involved with athletics. When skill-sets and talent are comparable, confidence often determines the victor. Nowhere has that fact been more evident that the run the LSU baseball team has been on since a tiny marsupial snuck into the Alex Box Stadium outfield in the midst of a 9-1 beat down by SEC opponent Arkansas on May 7th.
LSU, a team that lost seven position players off of last year’s College World Series team, was struggling as it entered that three-game set with the Razorbacks, chugging
along with a mediocre 11-10 SEC record and an overall mark of 28-16. As the seven new position players tried to define their individual roles and develop their own confidence, returning All-American Alex Lange and No. 2 starter Jared Poche were not having the kind of seasons that both enjoyed in 2015.
Lange had pitched the Tigers to a 5-4 victory in the Friday night opener, but things look bleak with LSU down eight runs the next day. Enter the Rally Possum stage left—field that is. Base hits started dropping, Arkansas began to make questionable decisions and bonehead mistakes, and the rally was on. Before one could say Fayetteville, LSU had rallied to victory, copping the 10-9 win by scoring the winning run in the bottom of the tenth inning after scoring four times in the bottom of the ninth to tie the contest.
Baseball is a fantastic, interesting game. Surely talent plays a great part, but team chemistry and the ability to grasp momentum as a unit is equally important. The Rally Possum supplied the wakeup call (guess they were playing possum all along—hey, could not pass it up), but returning starter Jake Fraley and new infield leader Kramer
Robertson stepped it up down the stretch as the Tigers went on a magical 17-3 streak, 16-3 after the possum appearance, to finish the SEC strong (19-11), go four games into the SEC Tournament, and then capture the Baton Rouge Regional by besting a talented Rice squad twice. After being 28-16, the Tigers now find themselves 45-19 as they prepare to face Coastal Carolina in the Super Regional starting tomorrow. The Chantacleers rallied to score four runs in the ninth-inning of the Raleigh Regional to upset North Carolina State in the deciding game.
Tiger fans can only hope that the various Rally Possums that will be seen around The Box this weekend carries more juice that whatever the Coastal Carolina have posted for good luck in their dugout. Baseball players, baseball teams, they are, indeed, a superstitious bunch. Particularly when it works. And at the moment, both teams appear capable of rallying.
Fraley, the Middletown, Delaware native who has enjoyed a fine three-year career in Tigerland, was drafted in the second round (Lottery Round 3, 77th overall pick) of the major league baseball draft Thursday by the Tampa Bay Rays. He (.324), Robertson (.331), outfielder Antoine Duplantis (.323), and infielder Cole Freeman (.321) have started all 64 games for LSU.
Former Catholic High receiver Jordan Romero provided some wallop (nine home runs, .300) before going into a late season slump and the other two members of the Jordan
triumvirate, Lake Charles twins Bryce and Beau Jordan, fittingly hit at almost identical clips, .299 for Bryce and .296 for Beau. Infielders Chris Reid (.290) and Greg Deichmann (.285, 10 home runs) rounded out the starters and proved to be key contributors. Deichmann hit a long two-run homer to give the Tigers the lead against Rice in the deciding game of the Regional. Catcher Mike Papierski has hit only .224 but he is better behind the plate than Romero.
Lange, while not as dominant as in his unbeaten freshman season, proved to still be a formidable opponent. He fashioned a 8-3 record, threw the only two complete games of the season by the staff, posting a 3.46 ERA, while striking out 117 and walking 47 in 106.2 innings of work. He gave up 41 earned runs, many coming during some early season struggles.
Junior Poche saved his best effort of the year when he came into the deciding game against Rice in the third inning losing 2-0. The Lutcher southpaw put up six zeroes as
the Rally Possum energized the bats of Deichmann (2-run homer), Papierski (HR), and Robertson (RBI double) for the victory.
Transfer John Valek fooled early competition with off-speed pitches and was able to win six of eight decisions, but he fell out of favor when opposition batters figured out how to work the count on him and wait for “fat”, hittable pitches. Opposition hit .285 against Valek this season.
Caleb Gilbert, Russell Reynolds, Parker Bugg, and Riley Smith will all need to be sharp if LSU is to go past the Super Regional and do anything in Omaha. Righthander Hunter Newman has worked his way into the bullpen stopper (1.65 ERA, 38 Ks in 36 innings), but others will have to step up in the next two weeks.
In the 2015 College World Series coach Paul Maineri gambled and decided to throw Poche against a good hitting TCU team manned by many lefthand hitters. He did fine the first time through the lineup and the game was tied 0-0 after three innings. After that he and Hunter Devall were tagged for six runs in short order, and the Tigers were not
able to mount a comeback, losing 10-3 in the CWS opener. Not even the Rally Possum could have helped that day.
Lange won the second game with a route going performance (10 Ks, 2 BBs), giving LSU a necessary victory and the beat up bullpen some needed rest. LSU eliminated Cal State-Fullerton 5-3. Third game starter Zac Person gave up three runs in the bottom of the second and although LSU rallied to tie the game with a three-spot of its own in the top of the third to tie the game, the Tigers were unable to stop TCU. The Horned Frogs tallied three more runs in the fifth inning and added two additional runs to send the Tigers packing for Baton Rouge.
Well, it is Super Regional time again at Alex Box. A seemingly annual tradition started thirty years ago by Skip Bertman’s first CWS team, the place should be hopping. Last year Alex Bregman, Kade Scivique, Connor Hale, Mark Laird, Jared Foster, Andrew Stevenson, and Chris Chinea enjoyed their congratulatory walk around The Box. However, their Nebraska stay only lasted three games.
This year’s group will have a few fake possums along for the trip should they best College of Charleston. Too bad they did not keep that little marsupial they swept up in that garbage can back on May 7th. They could cage it, and use just the right moment to release it in Omaha.Thanks For Visiting JV Sport Shots .Com’s Website And Viewing Our Latest Blog(s) / Page(s). We Would Really Appreciate It If You Would Leave Us A Comment Or Remark Below. This Helps Us Provide Great Sports Content; You Would Like To See In Future Posts.
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