Another day, another relentless performance from LSU's offense. One of the understated benefits of LSU's hyper-aggression on the basepaths is that when you force the other team to make defensive plays, they can make costly mistakes. There's no better example of that than what happened to Arkansas. Fielding mistakes, errant pick off throws, and wild pitches allowed LSU to score 7 of it's 10 runs unearned. While LSU has been able to take advantage of teams like that earlier this season, I don't recall a game against an SEC team this year where the opposition had so many mistakes. The other great thing about last night was how most of LSU's hits stayed down and got through to the outfield as opposed to a bunch of moonshots for long ball outs. If you've been watching the tournament so far, you've seen plenty of home runs get out of the cavernous Hoover Met this year. While it's great to see that, we all know what happens when the post season reaches Omaha and The Ballpark Where The Home Run Died. It's not small ball per se, just a relentless attacking style that can demolish the will of the opponent and lead to some big innings.
Now, about that bullpen. You know, as soon as Bain started having trouble, the #HotTakes began flying fast and furious that LSU will ultimately be doomed in the post season because Lange is the only pitcher LSU has that seems to be consistently good, while Poché and everyone else who's been tried out at the 3rd starter gig has had failed, sometimes spectacularly. I'm not going to argue that things wouldn't be much easier if LSU had a full set of confident starters and a bullpen full of lockdown closers. But then, LSU hasn't had that for most of the year anyway. Godfrey appeared to be not ready for primetime as soon as conference play rolled around, Poché spent the year being OK but with semi-monlthy bad outings, and the 3rd starting gig has been a revolving door of whoever has the hot hand this week.
But you know what? It's mostly worked. This ragtag group, who's outings are stitched together as the game goes along, has managed to do just enough to get LSU to it's current 48-9 record. Some have said that it's not a good idea for LSU to lean on it's offense and just hope the pitching does enough to not cost us the game. But I say, Why Not? LSU's offense is one of the best in the nation, and while it certainly has a power game element to it, it's not like LSU is dependent on a bunch of home run balls to win games. This is an offense that will work in any park in the country, against nearly any arm it might face. It is this team's strength, so it's time to play to it.
The pitching staff, even though it STILL has the lowest ERA in the SEC, is going to be what it is: a patchwork of outings that, when managed properly, do enough to let the M1 Abrams Tank that is LSU's offense to roll over anyone and everyone. It's time we start relaxing and enjoying the carnage.
Elsewhere in Hoover
Alabama, consigned to the early morning starts all week, is quietly playing some of the smartest baseball and best defense of anyone here. The Crimson Tide's season will end unless they can pull of the improbable and win this whole thing. They are a team where you hope someone else takes care of them before it becomes LSU's problem to deal with.
Auburn showed some grit against LSU, clawing back but not being able to overcome. That effort must have taken away their will as Florida damn near run-ruled them on Thursday in a game that was over in the 3rd inning. I'm still not convinced Florida really cares about winning in Hoover, but they at least seemed like the cared about not losing to Auburn.
A&M's offense is still a long ball power house, and you need nothing more than the back-to-back slams off of all-world Carson Fulmer yesterday to prove it. The Aggies gave Fulmer maybe the worst night of his career and none of it was cheap. Meanwhile, special mention is due for A&M's Matt Kent, who surprised everyone with his 1 run complete game against the Dores. A&M with suddenly competent pitching is not a team I want to exist.
Friday is BBQ day for the 2-0 Tigers and Aggies, while Bama-Vandy and UF-ARK fight this afternoon for a spot in the weekend.