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LSU right fielder Antoine Duplantis (8) gets a base hit in the tenth inning in Game 2 of the NCAA Baseball Baton Rouge Super Regional between LSU and Florida State, Sunday, June 9, 2019, at LSU's Alex Box Stadium in Baton Rouge, La. Florida State defeated LSU 5-4 in 12 innings to advance to the College World Series.

Antoine Duplantis heaved a throw into the infield.

It bounced uselessly past the mound, rolling toward a Florida State team that was bursting from its dugout.

The LSU hit king's career was over, finished by a walk-off single by Seminoles third baseman Drew Mendoza that beat the Tigers 5-4 in the bottom of the 12th inning in the Baton Rouge super regional, sweeping LSU in two games.

Duplantis wrapped his arm around center fielder Zach Watson, who reached for left fielder Daniel Cabrera.

The three of them stepped onto the infield dirt, Duplantis walking away from the Alex Box Stadium lights for the final time.

The four-year starter from Lafayette, who'd broken Eddy Furniss' record of 352 hits in the NCAA regionals last weekend, said he didn't fully realize the game was over until he saw his teammates walking into the dugout.

"This is a part of my life now," Duplantis said, fighting back tears. "For it to be coming to an end is tough."

He'd strode to the plate three times with his team trailing, and three times he brought the Tigers back from the brink of elimination.

The 5-foot-11, 177-pound Duplantis went 4 for 6 on Sunday, and he was the offensive force in LSU's final push for the College World Series — that baseball mecca that Duplantis only experienced as a runner-up in 2017.

And with his final hits, Duplantis has left a hit record, 359 total, that may last another two decades.

"I can't even put into words what Antoine Duplantis means to me," LSU coach Paul Mainieri said. "Words would be so inadequate. I'm just going to miss him terribly. My life is enriched having had the opportunity to coach him."

Hit No. 356

The crowd at Alex Box Stadium leaned left, and Duplantis leaned with them.

His fly ball soared toward the right foul pole, curling right.

Curling. Curling. Curling.

LSU trailed 3-0 going into that fourth inning, when Duplantis approached the plate.

Duplantis had struck out on three pitches to Florida State starter CJ Van Eyk in the first, and he worked the 6-foot-1, 185-pound Seminole into a 2-1 count, then knocked the baseball upward with a terse swing on an inside pitch.

Now the baseball was falling, falling, falling.


The home run withstood review. Duplantis scored LSU's first run, bringing the Tigers within 3-1.

Hit No. 357

Giovanni DiGiacomo gripped his helmet with his hands.

LSU was rallying in the sixth, trailing Florida State 4-1. The designated hitter had delivered one of two lead-off singles in the inning, and he'd just been picked off at third, overzealous in his lead-off toward home.

The play was of no matter to Duplantis.

Josh Smith was still on second with one out, and Duplantis crackled a single to left field, a hit-and-run play that scored Smith and brought LSU within 4-2.

Hit No. 358

The booming word "GEAUX" came from fans in the left-field stands and the reply "TIGERS" from right field echoed off the roof of Alex Box Stadium.

Van Eyk — that rugged, hard-nosed Van Eyk — was still in the game, pitching in the eighth with a 4-2 Florida State lead and having thrown more than 100 total pitches.

Smith had doubled to start the inning. DiGiacomo had struck out.

And on a 2-1 pitch, Duplantis struck the baseball and it looped into left field.

It hung for what seemed like an era, reaching its peak in that airy land, where perhaps lived that "Big Tiger in the Sky" that Mainieri has countlessly said has been good to him over the years.

Florida State left fielder Tim Becker gave chase. The ball hit the earth a few yards away.

Smith scored.

Perhaps even the greater victory: Van Eyk was removed from the game.

"When we finally got him out of the game, I thought it would work out well for us," said Mainieri, who coached Van Eyk on the USA Baseball Collegiate National team last summer.

Two batters later, LSU center fielder Zach Watson singled off lefty reliever Antonio Velez and was tagged out at second trying to stretch the hit to a double.

Duplantis scored the tying run. It was 4-4.

"I don't think this team quit," Duplantis said. "That's what made this team special... We fought right to the end."

Hit No. 359

All those innings ago, who thought Duplantis would be there at the plate again in the top of the 10th?

Still tied 4-4, the first two Tigers had been retired by Velez.

Duplantis wouldn't go easy.

A ball. A ball. A foul ball.

Five pitches later, Duplantis clipped a single into center field.

He walked to the dugout after left fielder Daniel Cabrera struck out.

The last at-bat

Duplantis saw his pop fly in the 12th fall into the glove of Florida State's shortstop.

LSU's hit king was the Tigers' last batter of the season.

"It doesn't hit you right away; you're not even thinking about losing when you're playing," Duplantis said. "I feel like it still hasn't set in, that it's over."

He said a few words more.

Then, the tears came.