HOOVER, Ala. — Landon Marceaux understood LSU’s history in the Southeastern Conference tournament and the importance of its first-round game here Tuesday evening against Georgia, so after he received an undeserved loss, the junior pitcher draped a towel over his neck as he dwelled on a 4-1 final score.
Marceaux had allowed all four runs in the first inning and then pitched seven scoreless frames inside Hoover Metropolitan Stadium. But as the No. 9 Tigers wasted multiple scoring opportunities, they were eliminated from the SEC tournament, left to wonder if the game will prevent them from receiving a bid in the NCAA tournament.
“As a team,” Marceaux said, “this one hurts.”
LSU (34-22) had never lost a first-round elimination game since the format began in 2012. It entered with the most SEC tournament titles in the league, often taking pride in its performance during the event.
This year, the Tigers were bounced from the tournament without a win for the first time since 2005. Georgia, the No. 8 seed, moved on to play No. 1 Arkansas in the second round.
HOOVER, Ala. — It was a never-before-seen scene at the SEC baseball tournament:
Now, LSU has to wait until the NCAA announces its 64-team field next Monday. The Tigers entered the postseason with a chance to make a regional after finishing 13-17 in the SEC, a record that, combined with their No. 21 RPI and strength of schedule, placed them in multiple NCAA tournament projections. Marceaux said “the anxiety is going to be high.”
Asked if he thinks LSU has done enough to extend its season, coach Paul Mainieri said, “I hope so.”
“If you're asking me do I think we're one of the best 64 teams in the country, I certainly feel that way,” Mainieri said. “I hope the whole selection doesn't come down to how you did in one game against an opponent.”
To leave LSU wondering if its season ended Tuesday night, Georgia (31-23) capitalized on a defensive mistake with the bases loaded and one out in the first inning.
Marceaux induced a potential double play, but as the ball moved around the infield, second baseman Collier Cranford skipped his throw to first baseman Tre’ Morgan, who couldn’t corral the last out. Georgia scored one run.
Tre' Morgan's baseball career began when he was 4 years old and his father coached him at Milne Playground. Their work made him the best first baseman in the SEC.
After Marceaux walked the next batter, reloading the bases, Chaney Rogers drove a changeup into the right field corner. Three runs scored on the double.
“It's just a blow that takes the breath out of you, and it shocks you,” said Marceaux, who finished with nine strikeouts. “I take full responsibility for that. I wasn't commanding my pitches in the first inning, and I came out in the second inning, and I was furious. The velocity jumped, and I really turned it on.”
Marceaux kept the score close, but Georgia controlled LSU’s lineup with a trio of left-handed pitchers. Luke Wagner, Jaden Woods and Ben Harris combined for eight innings. They allowed seven hits and struck out 11 batters. Right-hander Jack Gowen retired the side in the ninth.
LSU had scoring chances. It loaded the bases with no outs in the first inning and scored one run. It put runners on first and second with no outs in the fourth inning and stranded both. Then in the eighth, LSU loaded the bases again with one out. The next two batters struck out. The Tigers didn’t record a hit with a runner in scoring position.
HOOVER, Ala. — In May 2019, the week of the last SEC baseball tournament that was played, something wild happened. Then something tragic happe…
“You want to come in here and make a statement,” freshman right fielder Dylan Crews said. “I had all the confidence in the world with our guys, and we just came up short. But I mean, Georgia came right after us. They were aggressive with their pitches, and we just couldn't string anything together with runners in scoring position.”
The loss put LSU in unfamiliar territory. It had never lost this early in the SEC tournament, and as other teams compete for conference titles across the country, shaping the NCAA tournament field, the Tigers will drive home.
For the next five days, LSU has to rely on the hope that its regular season résumé will be enough to make the tournament.
“We've never lost on Tuesday here in Hoover,” Mainieri said. “Quite frankly, I don't know what to do. I don't know what to plan to do for the next several days. I have to put a lot of thought into how to react to this because it's uncharted waters for us.”