LSU baseball has not 'given up,' eying another late-season charge under Paul Mainieri
BATON ROUGE — LSU knocked off No. 16 Louisiana Tech in a 16-8 rout Tuesday night in front of 4,068 at Alex Box Stadium.
The game was called with two outs and LSU batting in the seventh inning because of lightning. The Tigers (30-18) had scored four runs in the inning and finished with 17 hits. Louisiana Tech (33-13) had taken a 4-0 lead in the third and was up 6-3 in the fourth.
The win improved LSU to 13-0 in midweek games with one remaining against Northwestern State on May 18.
Mainieri Magic returning just in time?
It may be too late for the Tigers, who are in 11th place in the SEC at 9-15, to reach the NCAA Tournament, but maybe not. The Tigers moved up two spots to No. 20 in the RPI rankings with the win, four spots ahead of Louisiana Tech.
The victory was the Tigers' ninth in 13 games since April 20, including a 5-4 mark in the SEC. Six SEC games remain as LSU hosts No. 28 RPI Alabama (28-17, 11-12) Friday through Sunday before playing at No. 62 RPI Texas A&M (27-23, 7-17). The SEC Tournament, which begins May 25, takes 12 teams.
"Nobody's given up here," LSU coach Paul Mainieri said.
Mainieri's teams have consistently finished strong. LSU closed out 2019 with a 10-3 run to finish fifth in the SEC en route to a Super Regional. In 2018, the Tigers finished 11-5 to finish seventh in the SEC and make an NCAA Regional.
In 2017, LSU won the SEC and reached the national championship series at the College World Series.
"If we can take care of business this weekend, I think we put ourselves in position to get into the SEC Tournament, the NCAA Tournament, and once you do that, it's a clean slate," Mainieri said. "And I think our team's playing pretty good baseball right now."
Lightning in a bottle?
Mainieri planned on using weekend relievers Ty Floyd and Devin Fontenot late in the Louisian aTech game, but the lightning that ended the game in the seventh allowed him to rest his bullpen leading into the Alabama series.
"I'm not all that broken-hearted that the game was called after seven innings," he said. "It kept us from having to use Ty Floyd and Devin Fontenot."
Michael Fowler (1-1) picked up the win by pitching the fifth inning after LSU took the lead to stay at 8-6 with five runs in the fourth. Mainieri used six pitchers in all.
"We were pitching a lot of guys who don't pitch much on the weekends," Mainieri said.
Quick hooks on three starters
Mainieri made a rash of lineup changes before three starters had a chance to bat — shortstop Jordan Thompson, center fielder Giovanni DiGiacomo and catcher Jake Wyeth.
Zach Arnold replaced Thompson, who Mainieri said was sick and appeared out of it as he made an error. Arnold responded by going 3-for-4 at the plate with four RBIs and two doubles. Mitchell Sanford replaced DiGiacomo and went 1-for-4 with two RBIs. Braden Doughty went in for Wyeth and went 1-for-5 with two RBIs.
"We were kind of going through the motions a little bit," Mainieri said. "We took some guys out, put some guys in, and they ended up sparking us. It tells the guys that are starting that they better play because somebody's waiting in the wings. If they don't get the job done, somebody else will have an opportunity to play in their place."