Video, as always, courtesy of rnolan53's YouTube channel
Today, the Wayback Machine takes us further back in time than the end of the Dinardo Era, and to a different location: Omaha 1991.
In 1991, I was a high school kid in Maryland. I hadn't yet applied, much less been accepted, to LSU. However, I was the son of two Tiger alums, so I had already begun being brainwashed in all things Tigers. But rooting for LSU two decades ago was a lot different than now.
First, the football team was terrible. Not in the Humanoid "8 wins is an apocalyptic disaster" sort of way, but truly and completely terrible. Mike Archer had just been canned, and Curley Hallman was about to embark on his reign of terror. Basketball hadn't yet begun its descent, as we still had another year of Shaq, but the horrible end of the Dale Brown Era was right around the corner.
And following a school out of market was radically different two decades ago. LSU football might have two or three games on national TV a season. Basketball? About the same. There was no such thing as the internet as we know it, and certainly no SEC Digital Network. Let's not kid ourselves about the good old days, they weren't that good and honestly, it wasn't that old.
Enter LSU baseball. The College World Series wasn't much of an event in 1991. Maybe a few games would be on ESPN, and then the title game was on CBS Sports, announced by two guys who obviously had not seen a college game all year. Hell, even the graphics sucked twenty years ago.
For an LSU fan living in the suburbs of Baltimore, this game was like manna from heaven. LSU, the school who seemed to lose at everything if they ever managed to make it to TV, were favored to win the national title in something... anything. I remember watching the game in our living room, surely the only TV on our block tuned into the CWS.
The game got off to a cracking start, as the Tigers scored two runs in the top of the first inning. Armondo Rios and Lyle Mouton scored first. This was a decided theme of the CWS. Lyle Mouton beat a throw to the plate.
Wichita St., owners of the greatest mascot in sports, got one back in the bottom of the first.
Armando Rios was sort of awesome, hitting a big two-run homer in the 2nd, to put LSU up 4-1. My biggest memory of this game and the CWS was how amazing Rios was. He just doled out punishment at the plate and made great plays in the field. After the 2nd, "Cling for Dear Life" mode began.
Rich Cordani's triple in the 4th, off of Darren Driefort who must curse LSU every night before he goes to bed, drove in Mouton and Rios again. Cordani's sac fly drove in the first run of the game, and he finished with 3 RBI. At this point, with the game 6-1 in the 4th, it was just waiting for the outs to run out. Especially with Chad Ogea on the mound. Chad Ogea may not have been Ben McDonald, but he was pretty dominant, and staked to a five-run lead, he was nearly unbeatable.
WSU got a run back on a sac fly and Cordani's extra special catch in left. But that was it until the 8th. I'm not going to lie, I don't really remember Cordani's impact on this game. In my memory, Rios and Mouton combined to go 7-9 at the plate and scored or drove in every run. Which isn't THAT far from the truth, but I did forget Cordani's massive influence on this game. He had a monster game.
The Shockers hit a meaningless homer in the 8th.
Then... dogpile. We've seen a lot of those now, but this was a first one in Omaha. You never forget your first time.
PodKATT: If you're looking for even more on the '91 team, the official site did a few interviews during the reunion back in April. And then there's the final '91 stat sheet. Ah, the days of 85 homers in 73 games.