Putrid. Awful. Horrible. Embarrassing. Nausea-inducing. Pathetic. Inexcusable.
Really, choose your own adjective. Any of those will do. This was the single worst game LSU played this year and the worst performance in a tournament game by an LSU team in memory. LSU's lost games before, of course, but getting shellacked in a non-competitive 10-run blowout in an elimination game? That's a new one.
The mark of a team's character is how it responds when faced with adversity. Give Houston credit. Down 4-0 in the 8th two nights ago and coming off a disastrous 7th inning, Houston rallied for four runs to tie the game. After LSU started the game off with a two run 1st inning last night, the Cougars immediately responded by scoring two runs of their own. Off of precisely zero hits.
How did LSU respond to adversity? On Sunday, after blowing a four run lead, LSU hitters got back on the horse by getting one hit in the next three innings. Of the final nine outs of the game, eight were fly ball outs. Last night, LSU hitters responded to the 7-run 3rd inning by not getting another hit until 8th inning. Way to rally, guys.
One of the strengths of the LSU team was its defense. Even in Sunday's game, the defense came through with a multitude of big plays. So, with the season on the line, the LSU pitchers kept giving up free passes, allowing Houston to get baserunners without contending with LSU's defense. It ended as poorly as one would think.
So, the hitting was terrible, the pitching was worse, and LSU gets to watch the Super Regionals on television. This team played like utter garbage last night. As soon as they faced trouble, they folded, just like they did on Sunday. It was the worst performance by an LSU team I can ever remember. Unless your name is Sean McMullen or Alex Bregman, two guys who combined to go 4 for 6 with 2 walks and 2 RBI, you played like crap last night. The rest of the team combined to go 4 for 28 with 1 walk and 8 strikeouts.
Our first three pitchers combined for a line of 2.1 IP, 9 ER, 6 H, 4 BB, 3 HBP, and 1 K (a sparkling 34.71 ERA, in case you were wondering). Cartwright, who promised a victory, didn't even throw an official inning. He was pulled before recording a single out. Bugg worked out of a jam before imploding in the third.
There's enough scattered, free-floating blame to cover everybody. No one, aside from the aforementioned Bregman and McMullen, played well. This was a total team loss. The only thing that spares Cartwright from being a goat was how terrible the rest of his teammates played.
Let's take quick stock in Paul Mainieri. In the past five seasons, LSU has only made it to Omaha once, the same number of times LSU has missed the tournament. In the other three seasons, he's lost in the regionals twice now, once at home.
As a point of comparison, Smoke Laval was LSU's coach for five seasons. He also missed the tournament once, but he made it to Omaha twice. He lost in regional play twice as well. And LSU fired him for those results.
Mainieri does have a national title on the resume, but his recent results make him look a lot more like Smoke than Skip. I understand a team can't win the title every year, but an LSU team losing by 10 runs in an elimination game at home is completely unacceptable at a program of this caliber. Losing happens to everyone, but LSU should never be non-competitive.
Forget the list of adjectives. There's only way to describe this weekend. A disaster.