We lost to Vandy last night as the #8 seed in the tournament took down the #1 seed. It was a day of upsets actually as the #5, #6, #7, and #8 seeds all beat their higher seeded counterparts. Vandy beat us with an outstanding pitching performance from left hander Mike Minor, who went the whole game giving up only 6 hits.
LSU started its #3 starter, Austin Ross, and really got a very good game out of him. He was very good through 6 innings, giving up only two runs. It was probably a mistake to trot him out for the 7th as he had pitched a lot of pitches for him through that point. He gave up two quick singles and was pulled without recording an out in the 7th. The two runners he let on came around to score. In retrospect, those two runs probably sealed the game for Vandy.
Still, if your pitching staff allows only 4 runs in a game, you usually expect to win it.
Minor was just too strong, and LSU is still very vulnerable to quality left-handed pitching. Our left-handed hitters went 0-for-11 against Minor with one walk. The right handed hitters went 6 for 19, which isn't exactly spectacular, but it's not awful. If our lefties had managed to do anything against him, we would probably have pushed across another couple of runs, because we had baserunners throughout most of the game.
The fact that we hit into 3 double plays didn't help either.
I do want to say that even though we all believe that Paul Mainieri is a great coach for this team, he sure makes some inexplicable decisions at times. In the 7th inning, LSU was behind 4-0 with runners at the corners and one out. Austin Nola was coming to the plate. There we were, with only 8 outs left but with a real chance to start making some progress with a base hit, and he left our weakest hitter out there to hit instead of pinch hitting for him.
Nola has been hitting a little better lately, but he was 0-for-1 at that point with a ground out and a hit by pitch and his batting average was hovering around .240. Nola hit a sharp grounder that we were fortunate the first baseman bobbled, or it could have been a double play. Instead, Vandy let the runner score from third and got the out at first.
It wasn't a disastrous result, but I can't say we played the percentages well there at all. Leaving our weakest hitter out there when we were way behind and in need of runs just doesn't make a lot of sense to me. It's not like his defense was crucial at that point, and we had better right-handed hitters like McGee, Helenihi, Buzzy Haydel, and Grant Dozar on the bench.
The second inexplicable decision came on the final at-bat of the game. Our left-handed hitters were at this point 0-for-10 for the game and Jared Mitchell was coming to the plate. Mitchell had not yet hit the ball into fair territory in two at-bats, and is notoriously weak against lefties. With the Tigers literally down to their final out, Mainieri left MItchell in to hit. He grounded out and the game was over.
I don't think either of those decisions cost us the game, but they very well could have reduced our opportunities to get back into it.
Oh well. Today, we throw out one of our pair of aces against Bama, who will presumably be using its ace, right hander Austin Hyatt. Who knows, though? They may bypass Hyatt again in favor of another lefty like Adam Morgan.