LSU season on the brink after good start, poor finish against Florida State in Super Regional opener
It is not how you start, it is how you finish.
LSU started well against Florida State Saturday at Alex Box Stadium but finished poorly. The result is that the Tiger season is on the brink following a 6-4 Seminole victory in game one of the Baton Rouge Super Regional.
The fact that starter Cole Henry only went two innings really hurt LSU. Then again, this has been a primary issue all season long, keeping key starting pitchers healthy and getting innings from them. Your starter cannot go two innings in postseason play.
The fact that LSU lost two runners on the bases truly hurt as well, including a terrible base-running play where missing a base cost the Tigers a run and maybe more.
The fact that LSU pitching walked 10 Seminoles was awful and it was a killer. Simply put, that is poor pitching, not good enough to beat a good team in the Super Regional round of the NCAA tournament. It had to be hard for Alan Dunn to watch.
It was the first time all season that Florida State trailed by four runs in a game and came back to win. In this case, they did it before over 11,000 fans on the road.
Florida State did not have a hit until the sixth inning.
The LSU offense stopped and the FSU offense got started.
Reese Albert struck the big blow in the 7th inning, tying the game with a three-run home run. He later added a solo home run for insurance.
Todd Peterson did a fine job in relief and threw a season-high 79 pitches.
The rest of the bullpen, other than Ma’Khail Hilliard, failed Paul Mainieri.
Travis Vietmeier, Devin Fontenot and Zack Hess simply were not good enough.
What is really troubling for the Tigers is that they used all of their top bullpen options.
LSU did threaten in the bottom of the ninth with a single by Chris Reid and a walk to Zach Watson. What hurt was an at-bat by Josh Smith, who had a two-hit game. Smith struck out swinging on what was ball four and all three pitches he swung at in the at-bat were out of the zone. Then, Antoine Duplantis, who had a hit and an RBI, popped out on a 2-0 pitch to end it. Reid finished with two hits and an RBI.
The onus falls squarely on freshman Landon Marceaux, who has been very good of late but he is now being thrust into a do-or-die situation with options behind him questionable, in terms of availability and a concern, in terms of execution.
LSU will have to deal Sunday with Florida State’s best pitcher in CJ Van Eyk, who is 10-3 with a 3.71 ERA with 115 strikeouts in just 87.1 innings pitched.
Florida State is hot and feeling good.
While LSU is certainly capable of winning two straight games, it will not be easy to overcome a hot, confident team which is well armed heading into game two Sunday.
Florida State is now 31-0 when leading after eight innings.
That is what happens when you have a real closer, which the Seminoles have in J.C. Flowers, who picked up his 12th save as Florida State won its 40th game of the season.
Now, LSU has no room for error or errors—in the field or on the mound.
When you cannot throw strikes, you cannot win. When you do not add on to a lead, you endanger yourself. That defined LSU on Saturday.
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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started NewOrleans.com/Sports with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became SportsNOLA.com. On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch CrescentCitySports.com. Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Sports Media Association, National Football…