Well, folks, we're going back to Omaha. I have been struggling with how to express exactly how good this LSU team is and how excited I am about their prospects in the CWS. I could point out that LSU has lost only one SEC series all year, which is a pretty good sign of our consistency. I could point to the 524-293 run disparity. I could point to to the team's 315/407/512 batting line.
But instead, let's focus on this weekend: LSU played nowehere near its best baseball and still swept Rice. And Rice is no chump. Many members of the college baseball media have pointed out that Rice probably should have been a national seed themselves. Outside of Virginia, no team got a worse screw job from the NCAA committee. I tend to agree with that assessment, but Rice was thoroughly outclassed this weekend. LSU swept a terrific team.
Normally, when a team earns a sweep, they have played pretty good baseball. Particularly when you sweep a team of Rice's quality. But the real testament to LSU's ability is that they earned a sweep over a top team while playing some of their worst baseball in a month.
LSU committed five errors in two days. Ranaudo was particulalry victimized, as only one of the five runs he allowed were earned. But it wasn't just the errors. One of the worst defensive plays of the weekend was scored a hit and an error. Seastrunk hit a ball to centerfield which in all honesty should have been caught, but at the very least should have been a single at worst. Mahtook misplayed the ball horribly which allowed Seastrunk to turn on the jets and go for third. Mahtook made a bad throw to hit the cutoff man, Nola, who in turn made an even worse throw to third. The runner was safe and eventually scored. Mahtook was charged with a throwing error, but it very easily could have been charged to Nola or even scored a hit. It was just a God awful defensive play. I don't think words can express just how awful it was, even though it probably shouldn't have been scored an error. It was just miserable defense.
Coleman and Ranaudo both put forth good but not great efforts. Neither were dominating, but both fought hard and pitched well enough to earn wins. Yes, most of Ranaudo's runs were unearned but every pitcher is dependent on his defense. As we've said on this site before, it's far better in college to evaluate a pitcher on RA instead of ERA. Ranaudo allowed five runs in 7+ innings. Coleman struggled to find his spot, but he never trailed and was his typical bulldog self in working out of jams.
Mitchell was an out machine, going 1 for 8 and getting thrown out on the basepaths. Mahtook looked completely lost at the plate on Friday, but bounced back yesterday. Gibbs went 1 for 7. Tiger hitters left 18 runners on base in two games. That's just awful.
I'm not saying this to rip on the team. I'm saying this to point out how great this team is. LSU played terrible and still beat one of the best teams in the nation in two games. How awesome is that? How many teams in the nation can play poorly yet still advance? Texas hasn't played its best, but they are advancing because they have gotten the easiest draw in recent memory, except for Fullerton's. But I can't think of another team that's not clicking on all cylinders and still beating down good teams.
Can you imagine what will happen in Omaha if LSU cuts down on the errors, actually gets clutch hits, and the pitchers stop giving up two homers a game? Hell, LSU might win even if those things don't happen. LSU has proven that even when things don't go right, they can still play good enough to beat anyone in the country.