Day 1 is in the books and LSU marches on. It wasn’t nearly as easy as the final score showed, but LSU was far from the least stable 1 seed amongst the 16 regional hosts. LSU Box Score
LSU v. Southeastern Louisiana
LSU hosted Southeastern Louisiana in the first game of the Baton Rouge Regional. SELU got the scoring started as RF Andrew Godbold (GODBOLT!) violently introduced himself to the Tiger faithful with a solo HR. LSU left 2 on base in the bottom of the first and Jared Poche settled down the Lions’ bats for the next three innings. The Tigers managed to squeak across a few runs in the 2nd and 3rd innings, but squandered some opportune moments to break open the game. Poche gave up a single and a double to score a single run in the fifth inning then gave up two more runs before being relieved after six innings of work. Zac Person and Nate Fury did a great job cleaning up with three innings of scoreless baseball for the Tigers. Fury earned his third win of the season.
The outcome was in doubt late as the Lions held a 4-2 lead in the 7th. Kade Scivicque finally put together a coherent at bat and singled home Bregman after a misplayed ball by the Lions LF. Scivicque immediately followed up his big boy hit with a little league base-running error–overrunning second as the LF found his bearings and threw Scivicque out. Nevertheless, the Tigers pushed across another run to tie the score. In the bottom of the 8th, the tires came off the seal for Southeastern and LSU turned a couple of errors into two runs and Sean McMullen went opposite field BOOMSTICK with a runner on for good measure. Fury closed out the ninth and the Tigers moved into the winner’s bracket.
SELU’s Andro Cutura pitched a masterful six innings against the 8 seed Tigers. Though his box score may show an average outing, he was not exactly lifted up by his defense as the Lions committed four errors on the day–2 of them in the bottom of the 8th when the Tigers pulled ahead for good.
Bryant v. Houston
These two teams fought really hard. What would be the winner’s reward? The right to face Aaron Nola on 8 days rest. These two low RPI teams fought deep into the Baton Rouge twilight (for married folks, this is anything past 9pm) for just that privilege. Neither team had to utilize their top starter in the match, so they’ll have that going for them tomorrow. But, they did go into extra innings. So, that may have a slight effect on the teams moving into tomorrow’s games. Houston made the fewest mistakes as, similar to the first game, the losing team committed four errors–a couple of those errors occurring in the deciding inning. Houston took advantage where Bryant faltered and the Cougars won. So, Houston v. LSU tomorrow night. GEAUX!!!
For most of the day I was worrying that LSU would be the only #1 seed to lose on their home field. As it turned out, six host seeds not only had trouble, but THREE of them lost. ULL lost their opener to a VERY scrappy Jackson State team–also the second lowest RPI team in the tourney at 269. Florida State, much to my enjoyment, lost their opener to (wait for it) Georgia Southern, 7-0. Georgia Southern is actually a pretty respectable team when you look at their numbers. They’ve won 50% of their games against top 50 teams (over .500 now, of course) and their only real draw back number-wise is their 250+ non-conference strength of schedule. That sure doesn’t matter now, now does it?! Finally, in games that were NEARLY was a loss for the host seeds: Miami and TCU took until the late parts of their contests to finish off Bethune-Cookman and Siena, respectively. TCU had to struggle 11 innings with Siena until they won, 2-1. While the Canes needed all nine innings to push across the game’s lone score, finishing off the Wildcats 1-0. [Florida will be discussed later in the SEC Section.] Oregon State, the number one overall seed in the tournament, hosted North Dakota State, the third to last RPI squad in the field and owners of a 248 RPI entering the contest. The game was tied at 1 up until the 7th inning. The Beavers held on to win 2-1.
The Terps WIN!!!
On my way home from work yesterday afternoon, the car ahead of me inexplicably targeted a live turtle near the shoulder of the road and smashed it to bits—it seemed to be a clear omen that the Maryland Terrapins (yes, a terrapin is a turtle; and, to Marylanders, it’s a turtle to be FEARED!) But, no fear! Not when you have the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth and HBP is your best option!!! No joke. Maryland was down 2 runs in the ninth when they hit a lead-off double. Soon after, Maryland had driven in one run to cut the lead in half when an Old Dominion walk loaded the bases. What followed was a two pitch, two HBP walk-off victory for the Fighting Terrapins. Simply amazing. Good for them.
Not a whole to lot to brag about for the best conference in baseball. On the day, the conference went 5-4 with one rain out (Ole Miss’ entire bracket was canceled with games moved to Saturday and the series is now extended into Monday). You know about LSU and their victory: less than spectacular. Alabama lost brilliantly to the Kennessaw State Owls, 1-0. The Owls’ ace Travis Bergen pitched a stellar 8.2 innings allowing only five hits and one walk. Texas A&M got their tails handed directly back to them being blown out by Texas, 8-1. The Aggies allowed 10 hits as a team and were down 7-1 after three innings. Kentucky battled Kansas back and forth all day for the lead–even through a lengthy rain delay in the sixth inning–but eventually gave up four runs in the seventh and eighth to lose 10-6. They’ll have SEC player of the year, AJ Reed, on the mound tomorrow in their elimination game. Florida, who faced likely the best #4 seed in the entire tournament, #52 RPI College of Charleston, never held a lead in a 3-2 loss. College of Charleston simply played strong on both sides of the ball and outlasted the Gators in what was a long evening game. Tough loss (and terrible scheduling from the NCAA committee) for the Gators.
In games where the conference did not lose face, Mississippi State put together a very functional, pragmatic victory (5-2) over San Diego State (a team that’s been reeling ever since Marshall Faulk left for the NFL, how did he ever get out of Louisiana for college football, huh?!? I digress) Vickerson, the Bulldog LF, had a triple and 3 RBI in the win. In like fashion, the always game Cocks of South Carolina overcame the soup-factory of Campbell University, also 5-2. Lefty Jordan Montgomery threw 8 full innings getting his eighth victory on the season moving the Cocks deeper and deeper into the winner’s box. Gross. In more wholesome action, Arkansas won a very tough battle with Liberty, 3-2. The Hogs held the Flames (no kidding) of Liberty scoreless in the last four innings for the win. Vanderbilt, seemingly disgraced in the SEC tournament, bounced back strong against their regional opponent: Xavier, in a 11-0 drubbing. Tyler Beede went 8 full innings giving up only four hits of shutout ball. Good job, Vandy!
Not a whole lot to worry or get excited about regarding the remaining contests. There were a number of blow outs: Oregon over Clemson 18-1, Virginia over Bucknell 10-1, Stanford over Indiana State 8-1, UC Irvine over UNLV 10-3, Oklahoma State over Binghamton 8-0, Indiana over Youngstown State 10-2. And here are the rest of the scores:
Fullerton 5-1 Nebraska
LBSU 6-1 UNC
Sam Houston State 2-1 Dallas Baptist
Pepperdine 3-2 Arizona State
Cal Poly 4-2 Sacramento State
Texas Tech 3-2 Columbia
Louisville 5-0 Kent State
Rice 7-2 George Mason