HOOVER, Ala. – LSU won’t roll into Baton Rouge in the wee hours of Monday morning as Southeastern Conference tournament champions this year.
And, maybe, that’s not such a bad thing.
LSU’s 2-1 loss to Florida in the event’s semifinal on Saturday means the Tigers will return to Baton Rouge Sunday afternoon. They won’t tax their pitching staff with an extra game, and they’ll get a good night’s sleep to start the biggest week of the year so far – NCAA regional week.
“We’re going out there to win every time we play,” coach Paul Mainieri said. “Right now, we’re feeling a lot of disappointment. We’re not here for Sunday’s game on national television to play Vanderbilt.
“But, as time passes we’ll say, OK, we’re not going to get back at 2 or 3 in the morning after tomorrow night’s game,” the coach continued. “We’ll have a relaxing night tonight. The kids will go out and have a nice meal with their families. We’ll get up in the morning and have a leisurely drive home.”
LSU will return to Baton Rouge on Sunday afternoon after the six-hour bus trip and will rest a pitching staff that’s already been pushed in the three games in the tournament. The Tigers aren’t used to that. They’ve won this event in five of the previous six trips here and bussed back Sunday night, getting in at 2-3 a.m. and then waking early for the NCAA regional selection show.
The full NCAA field is announced at 11 a.m. Monday on ESPNU.
Sill, Mainieri said, “Quite frankly, we’d rather be playing tomorrow.”
Florida’s game-tying double in the eighth inning on Saturday turned into one of the wildest plays of the season for LSU.
Entering for starter Alex Lange to start the eighth, Zac Person allowed a leadoff single to Josh Tobias and walked No. 4 hole hitter Peter Alonso. JJ Schwarz followed with the game-tying double off the left-center field wall against Hunter Newman.
And then what happened? LSU recorded two outs on the play via UF base-running blunders on a crazy 7-4-5-2-9.
Alonso got stuck between home and third base. Catcher Kade Scivicque tagged out Alonso just shy of third base and then fired to second where Mark Laird, coming in from right field, caught Schwarz off the bag.
“It comes on good communication,” said second baseman Jared Foster, who had the relay throw to Hale at third from the outfield. “The (relay) throw went over Bregman’s head. I was there. I was anticipating the throw going home. So I turn around, see him break (back to third) and threw to third to Hale and Scivicque came and did the job. Got him out. Heads up play throwing it to second.”
Alex Bregman’s first-inning, two-out single gave LSU 1,000 bags for the season, which leads the SEC. … Mainieri is now 24-5 at the SEC tournament, and LSU lost for the first time since dropping the second game of the 2013 tournament, a 4-1 loss to Arkansas.
Follow Ross Dellenger on Twitter @DellengerAdv.