COLUMBIA, Mo. — The fans slowly filed back into Taylor Stadium on Saturday after the five-hour rain delay — some prepared with towels to wipe off their seats, others forced to use their sleeves.
The field was wet, the stands were wet, the dugouts were wet. Everything was wet, but the rain had finally stopped.
One by one, the LSU players returned to the field, stacking their duffle bags on top of the dugout bench, steering clear of the puddles of water that had formed on the floor. The players spent most of their delay back in the team hotel, their second game against Missouri being delayed from a 1 p.m. start to a 6 p.m. start.
“It’s not the ideal situation,” coach Paul Mainieri said. “It’s just frustrating, because you get yourself geared up mentally to get ready to play at a certain time, and then everything comes to a screeching halt.”
But delays are nothing new for the Tigers, who’ve already dealt with a few this season.
During the delay, the No. 2 Tigers enjoyed a pregame meal. Some players relaxed and watched TV in the hotel room, waiting out the rain. Mainieri spent the unexpected free time on his computer watching the other Southeastern Conference baseball games already in play.
The delay wasn’t all that bad, either. If not for the break, junior right-hander Ryan Eades would not have taken the mound against Missouri as scheduled.
“I actually had decided earlier to scratch him (Eades) from his start today,” Mainieri said. “If we were going to start at 1 p.m. CT, and then there was still rain out there where we might play for an hour, and then get a delay, I wasn’t going to burn him up today. I was going to just wait until tomorrow when it was going to be a nicer day.”
That’s because Eades, perhaps the best starter on the LSU pitching staff, is too valuable to waste. Heading into Saturday’s game, he led the team with a 5-0 record and a 1.63 ERA.
But Mainieri and Eades didn’t have to worry about that scratch. Eades got the start against Missouri right-hander Brett Graves when the teams took the field at 6 p.m. Saturday, and though it was five hours later than expected, it could have been worse.
“The worst part is if the game ends up getting canceled,” Mainieri said. “I can remember as a little boy sitting at the window, crying because it was raining outside and the game was canceled.
“I’ve gotten over it a little bit. I’m not quite that bad anymore.”