There was a time midway through LSU’s grueling fall practice when it played a scrimmage without taking batting practice. Sometimes the team neglected to take infield or outfield reps before simulating the types of games that would count, regardless of conditions, once the regular season began.
“I actually hope for lousy weather days in the fall to see how they react to it, and they can practice playing it through cold weather, windy weather, anything else,” coach Paul Mainieri said Saturday, when the Tigers’ second game in the Baton Rouge regional got wiped out by another round of rotten weather.
“You just try to prepare your guys and hope they’re able to handle that. And I think our guys have become very good at that.”
When the Baton Rouge regional comes to an end, whenever that may be, the Tigers should be masters at it.
LSU’s second game in the NCAA tournament, originally scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday, was pushed back to Sunday — the result of an 8-hour, 23-minute weather delay during the Southeastern Louisiana-Rice game, which began at 9 a.m. Saturday.
Southeastern and Rice played six innings Saturday before rain and lightning returned, ultimately halting play for the rest of the day.
Southeastern and Rice will resume their game at 11 a.m. Sunday, with Rice holding a 4-1 lead in the top of the seventh.
Fifty-five minutes after that game ends, the loser will face Utah Valley in an elimination game.
Then, after another 55 minutes, LSU will hit the field to face the Southeastern-Rice winner. Alex Lange will take the mound for the Tigers.
After enduring a six-hour delay Friday, LSU beat Utah Valley 7-1 to open the regional, giving the Tigers an unplanned day off while rain pounded the Baton Rouge area for most of Saturday afternoon.
“It’s a matter of perspective,” Mainieri said. “I’m just really happy we got the game in last night. Imagine if we were scheduled to play the second game. We would have had to play at 9 this morning, play six innings and have to pick up the game again. We got a complete game in last night and got ourselves a victory. It’s not the perfect situation, of course. ... We’ll just roll with the punches.”
Southeastern and Rice were scheduled to resume their game at 6:45 p.m. Saturday, but the tarp was summoned again at 6:38.
Mainieri held a team meeting at around 5 p.m. Saturday before the Tigers went to the indoor batting cages to take batting practice.
A few feet away, the stadium remained empty sans game marshals and concession stand workers. Wearing a white Rice jersey and blue cap, Larry Williams stood in the concourse smiling through his interminable day.
Williams, a lifelong Rice fan and season ticket holder, made his first baseball road trip to watch his Owls in the Baton Rouge regional. He departed Houston at 3 a.m. for the early-morning first pitch and, because he couldn’t check into his hotel until 3 p.m., was able to soak in Alex Box Stadium’s allure.
“We get rain delays in Houston all the time,” Williams said. “This is pretty nice. A little bit bigger than Reckling Park.”
As Williams (and Mainieri) are aware, so does Baton Rouge. The waterlogged weekend is “up there” for consideration as the most weather-marred of Mainieri’s postseason career.
It elicits memories of past LSU teams — like when a police helicopter flew into the old Alex Box Stadium to dry the field during the SEC tournament in the Tigers’ 1991 national championship season.
“Frustrating, I think, is the correct word but there’s obviously nothing you can do about it,” Mainieri said. “It’s very, very frustrating, kids are sitting around all day waiting to play. Coaches are anxious, fans are anxious, media members are anxious and you just have to sit around and wait.”
Such a long wait that Mainieri’s mind began to wander.
“In my next life,” he laughed, “I’m going to coach a sport that isn’t affected by the weather.”
Follow Chandler Rome on Twitter, @Chandler_Rome.