Never thought I’d be saying that about this year’s LSU team…me and everybody else right? My College World Series Finals prediction was actually in reverse. LSU and Louisville were the first two teams eliminated in Omaha. Again I am comforted by my company. This was a fairly popular and educated guess.
Now Mississippi State (who I predicted would finish third in the eight team field) is left to carry the torch for the SEC here in Omaha. UCLA is the other team still left undefeated in the winner’s bracket.
So what happened to LSU? Offensive failure is the simple answer. Some will point to Coach Paul Mainieri’s decision to start LHP Cody Glenn instead of RHP Ryan Eades in the elimination game loss vs. North Carolina. Certainly that turned out to be a bad decision since Glenn gave up three runs in two innings and left LSU in a hole from the get-go. I’m sure Mainieri will regret never using Eades here in Omaha. He was a second-round MLB Draft choice just two weeks ago but turns in his uniform having never thrown a pitch at the CWS.
But LSU’s pitching staff allowed only six runs in their two games here in Omaha and only four of those runs were earned (0 earned runs in 2-1 loss vs. UCLA and all four earned in 4-2 loss vs. UNC). For a team that averaged 6.6 runs per game prior to arriving in Omaha, you do the math--that should have put them in position to win both of those games.
It wasn’t that the Tigers couldn’t get hits (they had 10 in the loss vs. UNC) but they just couldn’t get the big hit. LSU stranded 20 base runners in their two losses, 13 in an afternoon of utter frustration vs. the Tar Heels.
You have to feel especially bad for Tigers LF Raph Rhymes. A year ago he was the toast of college baseball, winning SEC Player of the Year honors while batting .431. He returned for his senior season, in part to improve his draft status and in part for a chance to play in the CWS. His Omaha memory will be more of a nightmare as he went a combined 0-9 and stranded 10 of the Tigers runners by himself.
But he was not the only culprit. National freshman of the year Alex Bregman went 0-8, Christian Ibarra went 0-7. Jacoby Jones, who had been one of the Tigers hottest hitters in the post-season, managed just one hit in Omaha. The Tigers had two RBI in Omaha and both off the bat of senior Mason Katz, whose solo homer vs. UCLA accounted for the Tigers only run against the Bruins.
With 57 wins, this was a record-setting Tigers team. But when you wear the LSU purple and gold, carving your name in history can be a hard thing to do…after all the Tigers have won six national championships. Unfortunately the 2013 LSU Tigers will be remembered as the team that came to Omaha as a strong favorite and left losing two straight games. Two and Bar-B-Que. Hard to believe.