A common refrain for this LSU baseball team is it goes as its senior shortstop Kramer Robertson goes, and that rang true in the first two games of the Baton Rouge regional.
Robertson’s 2017 NCAA tournament debut was an inauspicious one. In the field, he committed a pair of errors and played a role in a third. At the plate, he went 0-for-5 with no productive at-bats.
With Robertson having a tough day, LSU needed a strong finish to put away the regional’s No. 4 seed, Texas Southern. It was an oddly off day for a player who had been playing at such a high level coming into the tournament at both of his critical positions: shortstop and leadoff hitter.
He had been the catalyst in LSU’s 11-game win streak going into the NCAA tournament, recording team-high figures in batting average (.383), slugging percentage (.723) runs (20) and RBIs (13), while converting all 39 of his opportunities in the field during that stretch.
Robertson’s response to his atypically bad day at the office Friday? “Baseball is weird.”
“You can go a few months without making an error and then get a few in a game,” he said. “Try not to lose confidence. If I make an error, I don't lose confidence. It just happens.”
The veteran has been around long enough not to be shaken by such performances. He said he went into Saturday’s game against Southeastern Louisiana with the same mindset as he did Friday, not trying to do more to make up for a rough day.
The approach was the same, but the results were completely different.
Robertson reached base in all five of his plate appearances, scoring two runs, driving in another and cleanly fielding all four of his chances.
He wasn’t trying to do too much, but maybe his focus was sharpened a bit after the way Friday's game went down. LSU coach Paul Mainieri probably could’ve predicted that was going to happen.
“I knew, without a doubt, that Kramer is going to play a great game today,” Mainieri said after the Southeastern game. “He takes it really personal if he doesn't play well. (Friday's game) was a little bit of a struggle for him. He hasn't played like that very frequently in his career here.
“You could just see the determination in his face today. He came to the park ready to play, and I knew he was going to do some spectacular things.”
Robertson led off four different innings Saturday and came around to score on two of those occasions. One, in particular, caught Mainieri’s eye.
It was in the bottom of the seventh, after Southeastern had cut the deficit to four runs on Taylor Schwaner’s solo home run. Robertson led the inning off with a infield single, then took second on an error. He advanced to third base on a ground ball to the right side, then scored on a wild pitch.
“He kind of earned that run for us all by himself,” Mainieri said. “That hustle off the catcher was an important run to get. Kramer just played great.
“That's what leaders do. That's what winners do. When they have a bad day, they bounce back, and they don't dwell on it.”