This Austin Bain phenomenon has sometimes been tricky for LSU coach Paul Mainieri to manage.
Bain, the senior infielder-slash-closer, has made it so challenging with his outstanding play both at the plate and on the mound. It is a good problem to have, but it is not always easy to know when to ask your starting second baseman and cleanup hitter and closer to get loose in the bullpen.
Sunday, that decision was made easier thanks to some serendipitous timing: with Bain in the on-deck circle and an LSU ninth-inning rally brewing, Tennessee made a call to the bullpen.
“I’m happy they made a pitching change there, because it gave him a couple minutes to go down and throw a few pitches,” Mainieri said. “… I was worried that, if we tied the game and he was on base, how would he ever have warmed up?”
Bain dropped his bat, grabbed his glove and sprinted down to the LSU bullpen to get in as many warmup throws as he could — “He didn’t throw many,” Mainieri said — before sprinting back, grabbing his bat and doing the most 2018 Austin Bain thing.
“He just came back and gave me a thumbs-up, ‘I’m ready to go,’ ” Mainieri said. “He strapped it on, got in there and smoked a 95 mile-an-hour fastball in the gap for a two-run double.”
Bain described the sequence this way: “It was different. It was a little hectic. I was a little out of breath getting down there and coming back, trying to lock in. I hadn’t seen any of his warmup pitches.”
He only saw one of Tennessee reliever Zach Linginfelter's pitches, actually. Bain knew the book on Linginfelter was that he had a “plus-plus” fastball. He went to the plate looking for that pitch, got it, and laced it into the right-center gap.
It was the last at-bat of an excellent week for Bain, and he was rewarded for it all Monday.
After going 9 for 18 with eight RBIs in an undefeated week for LSU, Bain was named the Southeastern Conference Co-Player of the Week. He shared the honors with Florida’s JJ Schwarz.
Eight of Bain’s hits this week came in LSU’s sweep of Tennessee.
His big week at the plate raised his season batting average to .314, and he has 26 RBIs — not bad for someone who entered the year without a single at-bat in his first three seasons.
The remnants of a celebratory shaving-cream pie still clinging to his face and uniform, a giddy Daniel Cabrera was wholly believable when he s…
The series between LSU and Tennessee delivered some delightful baseball statistical oddities.
In Friday’s game, Clay Moffitt recorded two strikeouts despite only being credited with one-third of an inning pitched. One of his strikeouts came on a wild pitch that allowed Brodie Leftridge to reach base safely.
Saturday, Caleb Gilbert earned a save in a game LSU won by nine because he pitched the final three innings.
Sunday, Taylor Petersen entered the game with two out and the bases loaded in the ninth inning. He threw one pitch, inducing a ground ball to get out of the jam. LSU, of course, rallied for six runs in the bottom of the ninth and Petersen was credited with the win for his one pitch.
True story: Sunday evening, I had 700 words ready for my editors at the Advocate about how LSU failed to seize opportunities in its series fin…
Odds and ends
Sunday's victory was the 1,400th of Mainieri's career between stops at St. Thomas of Florida, Air Force, Notre Dame and LSU. He becomes the 10th coach all-time with 1,400 career wins and is fourth among active coaches behind Florida State's Mike Martin (1,968), Miami's Jim Morris (1,581) and North Carolina's Mike Fox (1,409). ... Antoine Duplantis extended his hitting streak to nine games with an RBI double Sunday. He has now hit safely in 17 of his past 18 games, compiling a robust .444 batting average (32 for 72) in that stretch … Entering Sunday, LSU was 0-12 when trailing after eight innings … LSU scored nine runs in each game of the Tennessee series, its first time scoring nine or more in each game of an SEC series since it scored 11, 9 and 11 runs against Kentucky in 2013.
For the first time this season, the LSU baseball team roared through a week of its schedule without losing a game, and the top-25 rankings mos…