You just knew that if LSU did enough to host a regional in this year’s NCAA baseball tournament, there would be a little dramatic twist thrown in to crown this roller coaster of a season.
I figured it might well be Florida State, sent here for the final NCAA appearance of the storied career of retiring coach Mike Martin, the winningest coach in the game’s history. Turns out that might be the case only if LSU wins its regional and Martin’s third-seeded Seminoles can spring a couple of surprises and win the regional at No. 4 national seed Georgia in Athens.
Still, the NCAA baseball selection committee had a touch of mischief in its collective heart and a sense of history when it assigned Stony Brook to the Baton Rouge Regional as the No. 4 seed. The Seawolves meet LSU at 6 p.m. Friday on ESPNU.
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Stony Brook. The name still sends a shiver up the spine of devoted LSU baseball fans everywhere.
The Seawolves were LSU’s rude introduction to the modern college baseball era in which even the most unheralded upstart (like Coastal Carolina in 2016) can make it to Omaha. Stony Brook was an unknown team from the north shore of Long Island, New York, when it arrived at Alex Box Stadium in 2012 after winning the Coral Gables regional at Miami … as the regional’s No. 4 seed. The Seawolves took the subsequent super regional from the Tigers (the No. 7 national seed that season) and paraded off to Omaha as thousands of LSU fans looked on in disbelief.
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Now Stony Brook is back as the No. 4 seed in the Baton Rouge regional. Getting said regional at LSU is cause for celebration for Tigers fans after a (gasp!) one-year hiatus when the Tigers got shipped off to Oregon State in 2018.
But having Stony Brook pop up along with No. 2-seeded Arizona State and No. 3 Southern Mississippi adds a nervous edge to the weekend in which LSU (37-24) is improving but hardly guaranteed to advance. But rare is the chance for LSU to be the team seeking revenge when it comes to the NCAA tournament … even it comes from long distance and a long time ago by the standards of the current players on both teams.
Meanwhile, the Southern Jaguars are back in the NCAA tournament for the first time in a decade after winning the automatic bid attached to the Southwestern Athletic Conference tournament championship. They’re headed to Starkville, Mississippi, to take on No. 6 national seed Mississippi State at raucous Dudy Noble Field (noon Friday, SEC Network).
There was a quiet, collective gasp at the Southern University watch party when the LSU regional popped up early in the NCAA Division I basebal…
Good on the selection committee for sending the Jaguars somewhere other than Baton Rouge. The same for McNeese State, which is the No. 3 seed at Vanderbilt in the Nashville (Tennessee) regional. While it’s probably fans of both teams would rather their teams be closer to home, to me it is more of a reward for in-state teams to get to experience a regional atmosphere somewhere other than Alex Box Stadium once in a while.
And don’t forget, LSU fans, Southern was one of those in-state teams that beat the Tigers this season. So maybe having Stony Brook back in The Box isn’t so bad after all.
Remembering Rod: Terrible news over the weekend that long-time Auburn radio play-by-play broadcaster Rod Bramblett and his wife, Paula, were killed Saturday in a car accident in Auburn, Alabama.
Like LSU’s Chris Blair, Bramblett broadcast Auburn football, basketball and baseball, including his famous call of Auburn’s “Kick Six” touchdown to beat Alabama in the 2013 Iron Bowl. Bramblett’s final call was Auburn’s 4-3 loss to LSU on Thursday in the SEC baseball tournament.
Condolences to the Bramblett family and the Auburn family, which will have to find a replacement for him when the Tigers take on Coastal Carolina on Friday in the Atlanta regional at Georgia Tech.