Three thoughts by Advocate staff writer Luke Johnson after LSU's loss to Florida in the College World Series championship.
1. The right call
There was some chatter in the LSU fan base that coach Paul Mainieri was “conceding” Game 1 of the championship series against Florida by not throwing Jared Poché on short rest. Let’s nip that in the bud right here. Beyond any sort of strategy of having Poché go against someone other than Brady Singer to get to Alex Lange (which, even though it didn’t pan out, is also smart), Mainieri is not one to put his players at risk of injury. That is one of the ways he is able to get big-time pitching prospects like Lange and Zack Hess on campus instead of signing a pro offer out of high school. They know Mainieri won’t abuse their arms during a title chase. While it was frustrating to see LSU forced to piece together a pitching plan in its most important game of the year, it was the right call.
OMAHA, Neb. — LSU lost two baseball games Monday and Tuesday. Two very big games. And swept …
2. The magic ran out
That’s the best way to put it. After playing at an obscenely high level for nearly two months — LSU went 25-3 in the 28 games leading up to the championship series — the Tigers were simply not able to find whatever it was that made them great. Watching the seventh and eighth innings Tuesday was like watching the Tigers briefly remember who they were and how they got to this point, only to forget the moment before it could strike the decisive blow. LSU hinged its postseason run on its relentless approach, constantly putting pressure on opponents with a speed and power combination. Tuesday, it looked like the pressure got to the Tigers instead. Twice in those innings, LSU had the tying run at third base and the go-ahead run at first with nobody out, and twice it failed to tie the score.
OMAHA, Neb. — This is the place Kramer Robertson wanted to be on June 27. This was the reaso…
3. The future awaits
Here are some of the parts LSU will almost certainly have to replace: its starting shortstop, its starting second baseman, its starting right fielder, its starting catcher, its Nos. 1 and 2 starters and a trusted bullpen arm. That’s a lot of production and a lot of experience, but LSU always seems to be able to reload, and next season should be no different. The Tigers should be comforted by a lineup that includes Josh Smith (likely moving to shortstop), Zach Watson (maybe moving to second base?), Antoine Duplantis and a healthy Bryce Jordan. If Eric Walker is healthy, it's not hard to see LSU going toe-to-toe with Florida for the best returning rotation in the Southeastern Conference if Caleb Gilbert and Hess join him. As always, LSU’s ability to reload and compete on a national level depends on how well players like Jake Slaughter develop in the offseason and how much it can get out of its signing class.