After he had blown a save in the ninth inning and allowed the winning run to score on Saturday, junior Zack Hess stood in front of his teammates and blamed himself for LSU's loss to Auburn.
"Don't let my failure keep the momentum from going forward," Hess said he told his teammates. "We're playing really good baseball right now. That one is 100 percent on me. I have to be better, and I have to get myself figured out."
Hess allowed three runs — two in the ninth inning — as LSU lost the final game of the regular season 5-4 in extra innings.
LSU clinched the fifth seed in the Southeastern Conference tournament the night before, but it had a chance to enter the postseason on a five-game winning streak. The players believed they had started playing their best baseball.
Instead, LSU (34-22, 17-13) lost to Auburn (32-23, 14-16) at Alex Box Stadium.
LSU had missed chances to break open the game and relied on a flurry of brief appearances from relievers. But it led 4-2 in the ninth inning, giving itself a chance to sweep Auburn.
Hess, pitching on consecutive days for the first time since he returned to the bullpen two weeks ago, had entered with two outs in the eighth inning.
"The pitching plan looked like it was going to work to perfection," coach Paul Mainieri said.
After walking a batter with one out, Hess gave up a two-run homer to Matt Scheffler that tied the game.
The home run came on an 0-2 pitch. As the ball sped out of Alex Box Stadium, left fielder Daniel Cabrera jumped against the wall. He had no chance of catching it. The ball landed halfway up the stands behind left field.
"I thought I'd gotten it where I wanted to," Hess said. "He put a good swing on it."
As the game moved into the 10th inning, Hess came back out and retired the side. He struck out two batters, pacing off the field when the last swung over an off-speed pitch.
Hess walked back out for the 11th inning having thrown 46 pitches over the past two days. He gave up a single to leadoff hitter Ryan Bliss.
With one out, Auburn shortstop Will Holland doubled into the left-field corner. Bliss scored as Auburn took a one-run lead. In his past five appearances, Hess has allowed nine runs and four homers.
“The same situation 100 times again, I'll put Hess in 100 times,” Mainieri said. “I've got all the confidence in the world in him.”
Though Josh Smith singled with one out and reached scoring position in the bottom of the 11th, LSU lost.
Afterward, Hess blamed himself. He vowed to watch more film and fix his flaws. He thought LSU had played well all weekend and that he had lost his teammates the game.
"I'm angry," Hess said, and he paused. "I'm going to help us win games here before the year is over."