After the lightning, the suspension of play and the sleepless night, LSU lost twice in extra innings Sunday against Tennessee, leaving the Tigers to digest a sweep when they thought they could win the series — or at least take one game.

Instead, Game 2 of the weekend resumed Sunday morning with No. 14 LSU leading by one run in the ninth. Tennessee tied the game, forced extra baseball and won 9-8 on a solo homer in the 11th inning in Knoxville, Tennessee.

The series finale began 30 minutes later, and by the end of the afternoon, LSU had lost again in extra innings, this time 3-2 as Tennessee first baseman Luc Lipcius dropped a one-run single past the outstretched glove of diving center fielder Will Safford in the eighth inning of a planned seven-inning game.

Tennessee swept LSU, and the Tigers dropped to 1-5 in the Southeastern Conference for the first time since 2011. LSU lost the three-game series by a combined four runs.

“It reminds me of our team in '08 when we were losing some close games,” Mainieri said. “I kept telling the guys we're an at-bat away, a pitch away, a play away. Eventually, we started doing those things and we ended up having a good team and going to Omaha.

“I feel like this team is — we're a little snake-bit. We're a pitch away or an at-bat away. If we can just get over that hump a little bit, then we can turn some of these close defeats into really good victories. We've just got to stay with it, but it's frustrating right now for the kids.”

Mainieri spoke from inside the dugout at Lindsey Nelson Stadium, where 20 hours and 29 minutes earlier, director of operations Nate Fury whispered in his ear, “The lightning’s coming.”

LSU (16-8) had taken an 8-7 lead into the ninth inning Saturday night, but lightning around Knoxville and approaching thunderstorms forced a suspension of play until Sunday morning.

“It was kind of frustrating, but you can't do anything about the weather,” Mainieri said. “They made the correct decision.”

Mainieri said he “didn't sleep a wink” as he debated between using freshman Ty Floyd and senior Devin Fontenot for the ninth inning. He stuck with Floyd, who pitched a scoreless eighth Saturday night.

Floyd issued a one-out walk. The runner advanced to scoring position on a groundout. With first base open, Mainieri thought about intentionally walking Tennessee center fielder Drew Gilbert, who represented the game-winning run. Mainieri surveyed the wind. It blew across the field, making him think Gilbert couldn’t hit a home run. He let Gilbert hit.

LSU sports news in your inbox

If you're a Tiger fan you won't want to miss this newsletter. Sign up today.

Floyd reached an 0-2 count against Gilbert. He needed one more strike to secure the win. Then Floyd left a fastball high in the zone, and Gilbert roped a double down the right-field line, sending the teams to extra innings.

“The cardinal rule of baseball is you don't walk the go-ahead run, but I really regret not doing it,” Mainieri said. “Sometimes, you've got to go against the book, especially when you're the visiting team. I feel like I made a bad decision there.”

The next time Gilbert approached the plate, Fontenot had recorded one out in the 11th inning. Gilbert barely deposited a fastball over the right-field wall, a call confirmed by video review, and Tennessee won the series.

Game 3 was scheduled to last seven innings because of the suspension. With the score tied 2-2, LSU and Tennessee (21-4, 5-1) reached extra frames.

In the bottom of the eighth, freshman Garrett Edwards allowed a leadoff single to Liam Spence, who advanced to second on a groundout and reached third on a balk. LSU intentionally walked the bases loaded to create a double-play opportunity. Edwards recorded the second out.

Edwards reached a 2-2 count against Lipcius. Once again, LSU needed one more strike to survive the inning. But Lipcius dropped the final pitch into shallow center field. Safford dove. The ball hit the ground. Spence scored.

“This is just three games,” freshman first baseman Tre’ Morgan said. “It doesn't define us as a team, define our season. We've got to get back and start grinding.”

As they prepare for a midweek game against South Alabama before hosting No. 1 Vanderbilt and its pair of ace pitchers, the Tigers can move in one of two directions. In 2011, they finished 13-17 within the conference and didn’t play a postseason game. Mainieri hopes the season resembles 2008.

That year, LSU was swept by Tennessee in the opening conference series — its only sweep of LSU until this weekend — and after starting 3-6 within the league, the Tigers finished 18-11-1, riding a hot streak the final month of the season into the College World Series.

“I feel like we’ve just got to get those timely hits,” redshirt junior pitcher AJ Labas said. “We’re getting on base, but at the same time, we’re not driving in the runs that are in scoring position. Once we get that under control and the bullpen situation, once we get that under control, we’ll be good and stuff like this won’t happen.”

Email Wilson Alexander at walexander@theadvocate.com