HOOVER, Ala. — What were you doing as LSU and Florida battled into the wee hours Thursday morning in the Southeastern Conference tournament?
Were you on a coffee IV drip? Were you propping up eyelids with toothpicks? Did you stumble into work Thursday morning and discover how a stack of forms can make a good pillow in a desperate situation?
If you watched the Tigers’ 5-3, 13-inning marathon victory over the Gators, whether at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium or on TV, you aren’t soon likely to forget it.
The great pitching. The great rally by the Tigers for three runs in the eighth to take the lead. The Gators forcing extras with a two-out hit in the bottom of the ninth.
And what about the extra LSU infielder in the 11th? I thought we were going to have to wait until fall to see new defensive coordinator Dave Aranda’s five-man fronts. LSU went with five, pulling center fielder Jake Fraley, and thwarted Florida’s bases-loaded, no-outs scoring threat with third baseman Chris Reid finishing them off with a double play.
For the record, Trey Dawson was the fifth infielder. What do you call a fifth infielder? The designated glover?
Maybe that was one of the talking points Thursday around Baton Rouge and around Louisiana about this game as productivity most certainly had to go right into the dumpster.
They were talking about where they were watching, too, the few, the proud, the insomniac LSU fans, mimicking the nocturnal habits of their beloved rally possum until their Tigers recorded the final Florida out at 1:48 a.m.
Brant Langlinais, a nurse anesthesiologist and LSU fan living in Aggieland in College Station, Texas, had it worse than most. He was in Charlotte, North Carolina, for a conference — the Eastern Time Zone.
Watching the game on his phone (no SEC Network at the hotel), Langlinais fell asleep in the ninth inning. His phone kept running, though, until the battery ran out.
“My phone is supposed to be my alarm clock,” Langlinais said. “The WatchESPN app runs up 11 gigs in data charges. I wake up not packed, dead phone, clothes everywhere, popcorn in the bed and a cab arriving at 5:30 a.m. It’s 5:17 a.m.
“I have no idea how I woke up. Had to be the rally possum. I throw everything into my suitcase, charge my phone for eight minutes to garner enough to have my boarding pass available and walk out the doors of the hotel at 5:30 on the spot.
Langlinais still didn’t know LSU had won until a fellow doctor travelling with him gets in the cab, “turns to me and says, ‘Well, the rally possum looks to have worked again.’
“I smile at him and say, ‘Geaux Tigers.’ ”
Langlinais said he went home and upgraded to unlimited data — AT&T dropped the huge data charges.
Across the country Taylor Bugg, sister of LSU pitcher Parker Bugg, got just 31/2 hours sleep so she could be at work at 6 a.m. in San Diego so she could catch a flight to Birmingham and be here for LSU’s Thursday night game against Mississippi State.
At least she could watch the game. LSU fan David Marye of Houston was in Mexico City where he couldn’t even get WatchESPN on his iPad. He could only keep up with The Advocate’s Twitter dispatches during the game.
“I finally fell asleep after the win,” Marye said.
Everyone is giving the rally possum credit for LSU’s success of late. Maybe they should give some appreciation to Grayson Ward, an accountant from New Orleans.
Ward didn’t even make it through LSU’s 5-4 Tuesday night victory over Tennessee. That started an unusual approach to Tigers fandom.
“I went to bed and woke up to a victory,” Ward said. “Where I went wrong was telling my friends what had happened.
“So for the game (Wednesday) night I stayed up until the bottom of the sixth inning. My buds made me go upstairs and go to sleep so we could rally back. I was watching the game in my room and my roommate heard me, made me turn it off and as I drifted off to sleep the Tigers turned it loose in the top of the eighth.
“I woke up to another victory.”
Ward planned to be asleep by game time Thursday night in order to bring the Tigers luck against the Bulldogs. No kidding.
“I don’t love that I can’t watch the games anymore, but I do love the Tigers and that my sacrifice is rewarding so many Tiger fans,” Ward said. “For that I’m grateful and humbled.”
At least most Tigers fans had the comfort of home or hotel. Hundreds of LSU fans stuck it out at the Hoover Met until the wee hours, unwilling to leave until the game was decided.
Karen Braud, an LSU fan from Baton Rouge now living in Cincinnati, has met her sister Karen Needham of Denham Springs and her daughter Brittany here every year since 2008.
“We knew we’d pull it out,” Braud said. She said a Hoover Met concession worker told her they were praying for LSU, “because when LSU leaves, they lose money.”
Cliff and his son Adam Cutrer of Baton Rouge stuck it out to the last out as well, not getting back to their hotel until 3:15 a.m.
“When it comes to LSU, nothing takes us away from the game,” Cliff Cutrer said.
Like a lot of LSU fans, the Cutrers wound up not only with the memorable victory, but a memorable story to tell.
Follow Scott Rabalais on Twitter, @RabalaisAdv.