Rare stagnant day by LSU offense costly in Saturday’s loss at Ole Miss _lowres

Mississippi pitcher James McArthur (26) pitches against LSU during an NCAA college baseball game in Oxford, Miss., Saturday, April 30, 2016. (Bruce Newman/The Oxford Eagle, via AP)/The Oxford Eagle via AP)

OXFORD, Miss. — Going 2-for-16 with runners in scoring position “is just baseball,” LSU’s Bryce Jordan said after his team’s offense did just that in Saturday’s 8-2 loss at Ole Miss.

There was a caveat to the burly designated hitter’s explanation, though, delivered in a forceful, frank tone.

“Bottom line, we’ve just got to execute with less than two outs and runners in scoring position,” he said. “You’re not going to get the job done every time. You have to fight, have to battle, get it done. Even if it doesn’t work every time, we have to get it done sometimes. We put up seven zeroes.”

Jordan had no concrete answer for what caused the Tigers offense, which had been a pillar of consistency in conference games for the past month, to revert back to its early-season clutch-hitting complications. It had 11 hits, though only two came with runners in scoring position — both in the eighth inning while the Tigers trailed 8-0.

Saturday marked the fifth time in 21 Southeastern Conference games that the Tigers (28-16, 11-10) scored two or fewer runs. Two of those five came at Texas A&M, where LSU stranded 26 runners across three games, going 9-for-51 with runners on base.

LSU, which stranded 10 runners through the first five innings Saturday, recorded double-digit hits in 12 of its next 15 conference games after that dismal weekend in College Station, including all three games against Ole Miss.

“I hope so,” LSU’s Kramer Robertson answered when asked whether Saturday’s game was an anomaly. “I think it’s a positive that we’re hitting the ball, but when you get an opportunity to drive runs in, you have to want to be in that spot and you have to want to execute. We didn’t do that today. We’re going to have to be better.”

The Tigers don’t have much time to do so. With just 12 games left in the regular season, coach Paul Mainieri said his team finds itself still within reach of its yearly goal to bring postseason baseball to Alex Box Stadium.

“The kids have final exams this week,” he said. “They’ve got to bear down on that, and we’ll have a few days of practice and then we’ve really got the stretch run. We’ve got nine more (conference games). I still think we’re in the running for a regional host and stuff like that.”

Recent buzz in the college baseball community has suggested the SEC will benefit from its weaker than usual surroundings when NCAA regional host sites are announced in late May.

D1Baseball.com’s latest regional projections, published before this weekend’s games, gave the SEC five host sites, including LSU. Baseball America also gave the conference five sites but did not project LSU as a host. The SEC has been awarded four host sites in each of the past three seasons.

As of Sunday afternoon, LSU’s RPI sat anywhere from No. 14 to No. 17. It is in fourth in the SEC West but sits only three games out of first in a logjammed, top-heavy division. Texas A&M leads by just two games and, like LSU, faces nine more games in the nation’s toughest conference.

“If we can do well in that stretch,” Mainieri said, “we can still accomplish some really good things.”