Andy Cannizaro’s best memory of his baseball-playing days at Tulane is one that might haunt many LSU fans: it’s the Green Wave’s win over the Tigers in the 2001 NCAA super regional at Zephyr Field.
Tulane (34-23), the No. 3 seed at this year’s NCAA Baton Rouge regional, might get another shot to eliminate No. 2 national seed LSU (48-10) and its hitting coach, Cannizaro, this weekend. The two teams could meet if the Tigers beat 4 seed Lehigh on Friday and Tulane wins Friday’s nightcap against No. 3 seed UNC-Wilmington.
“If we take care of our business on Friday and Tulane takes care of their business on Friday night, it certainly would be a really special night in terms of just the Tulane-LSU rivalry,” Cannizaro said. “You probably couldn’t ask for a better matchup in terms of Louisiana fan interest. It would be a special night with a hostile crowd.”
This time, the crowd will be on Cannizaro’s side. Tulane won the last two games of a best-of-three super regional in 2001 to eliminate the Tigers and send the Wave to the College World Series.
Those are LSU’s only two losses to Tulane in postseason competition. The Tigers are 6-2 against the Wave.
Cannizaro, who joined LSU’s staff in the summer after a stint as a New York Yankees scout, still holds multiple Tulane records from his time as the team’s All-American shortstop: steals (128), games played (248), at-bats (1,030), hits (350) and doubles (85).
The emotions of a possible Saturday night or Sunday meeting against the Green Wave would be high, no doubt. Cannizaro, though, has prepared for such. LSU played Tulane twice this season — the Tigers’ 13-7 win at Turchin Stadium and 6-0 victory at Alex Box Stadium.
“I’m sure now in the NCAA tournament, if we happen to meet them, he’s not even going to be thinking that it’s Tulane,” coach Paul Mainieri said.
Alleva: I told Paul to watch out
Most people in Baton Rouge are unfamiliar with Lehigh, LSU’s opponent in the Baton Rouge regional opener, but not Joe Alleva.
LSU’s athletic director played football and baseball for the Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, school in the 1970s. Aleva played first and third base as a freshman and sophomore then focused just on football his junior and sophomore seasons, serving as team captain in 1974.
“I think it’s great,” Alleva said of Lehigh coming to town. “Their kids will love it. They’ve never experienced anything like The Box.”
Though the Tigers are a huge favorite to beat the Mountain Hawks, Alleva said he reminded Mainieri that No. 15-seeded Lehigh upset No. 2 Duke in the 2012 NCAA basketball tournament.
“I told Paul to watch out,” said Alleva, who was Duke’s athletic director before coming to LSU in 2008.
Alleva and Lehigh Athletic Director Joe Sterrett played football together at the school in the mid-1970s.
LSU will play its 80th NCAA regional game as a No. 1 seed on Friday.
The Tigers are 68-11 in regional games as the top seed and have never lost a first-round game in an NCAA regional as the No. 1 seed. They’re 20-0.
Follow Ross Dellenger on Twitter @DellengerAdv.