Only one team will enter the NCAA baseball tournament with a longer winning streak than LSU's. That is No. 1 overall seed Oregon State, which has won 16 straight games to the Tigers' 11.
But even the Beavers would be impressed with the way LSU has won those 11.
In their past 11 games, the Tigers are out-hitting their opponents by 108 points, out-slugging them by 190 points and outscoring them by almost five runs per game.
“It’s pretty dominant right there when you put that together,” senior shortstop Kramer Robertson said. “Before the season, that’s what we believed we could do and had the potential to do; we just hadn’t put it all together at once until the last couple weeks. You’ve seen how dominant this team can be.”
During the course of the streak, LSU has recorded three shutouts and has scored at least nine runs seven times, including five consecutive games with 10 or more runs.
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“It’s a total team performance,” hitting coach Micah Gibbs said. “When (the pitchers) go out there and put up zeroes and we’re putting up crooked numbers, I don’t want to say we’re relaxed, but it’s one of those things where you’re like, ‘OK, this is what we can do. We know we can do this.’ ”
A confluence of sharpness has made LSU difficult to beat since it dropped a one-run game to South Alabama on May 9. LSU’s lineup has tied its best 11-game stretch of the season from a scoring standpoint (87 runs) at the same time as its pitching staff has produced its best stretch of the season in terms of keeping teams off the scoreboard (25 runs).
The dominant stretch can be attributed to LSU’s best players performing at a high level while getting key contributions from a few other spots.
The top four hitters in the order — Robertson, Cole Freeman, Antoine Duplantis and Greg Deichmann — have accumulated a combined triple slash line (batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage) of .353/.443/.575 during LSU’s winning streak. They have 20 extra-base hits and have driven in almost half of LSU’s runs (42) in this stretch.
No. 1 seed LSU Tigers
All four are hitting better than .310 during the streak, but nobody has been better than Robertson, who has taken his game to a stratospheric level. Robertson is slugging .723 out of the leadoff spot during the streak, posting three doubles, two triples and three home runs. He has scored 20 runs — pushing his nation-leading total to 76 — and has driven in 13.
The havoc wreaked by the top of the order has been boosted by the production of the bottom. Michael Papierski and Zach Watson, the Nos. 8 and 9 hitters, have combined to hit .300 with five home runs during the streak.
And LSU has won several games comfortably thanks to a pitching staff that has gotten some giant performances from its best members.
“We’ve pitched so much better,” coach Paul Mainieri said.
Ace Alex Lange has been fantastic for basically the entire season, but like Robertson, he took it up a notch as his team neared the postseason.
Lange is 3-0 with a 0.39 ERA in his past three starts. The only run allowed in his past 23 innings came on a solo homer hit by the first batter he faced at Mississippi State. He has struck out 27 against just five walks — all of which came in Starkville — and two of his past three outings have been shutouts.
“I knew we were always capable of doing something like that,” said senior Jared Poché, who is 2-0 with a 2.55 ERA during the streak. “We’ve got the talent, we’ve got the experience and we’re finally … putting it together at the right time."
LSU’s big arms out of the bullpen have been their usual dependable selves during the streak. Freshman right-hander Zack Hess has been especially strong, striking out 12 in 7.1 innings over five appearances.
Closer Hunter Newman gave up just his third earned run of the season during a shaky outing in the SEC tournament title game against Arkansas, but he has otherwise excellent numbers during the streak, limiting opponents to a .118 batting average over four appearances with three saves.
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The less-heralded members of the staff have come up with some big outings, too. Caleb Gilbert bailed LSU out of a tough situation when he started the Tigers' SEC tournament opener against Missouri in place of the suspended Todd Peterson, and he delivered five strong innings in a winning performance.
LSU is firing on all cylinders at the critical time of the year. Now the Tigers will find out how well they can sustain that effort.
“We still have to go out there and perform,” Robertson said. “Just because we’ve been doing it doesn’t mean we will continue to do it.
"We’ve got to play with the same focus. But we believe that our best is the best there is — we really do.”