If you don't already know, which you should, I work on the LSU Tarp Crew. This means I had to work every single game of the regional, prepping the field, dragging the dirt mid game, and waiting on call by the tarp in case Mother Nature decides to show her face.
I'm sick of her face.
Report Time: 1:30 PM
Exit Time: 1:30 AM
Total Time: 12 hours
Tarp Time: 2 hours
I'll be honest, I don't remember much from Friday other than LSU going down in the 4th and nobody really worrying about it, and with good reason. LSU matched Lehigh's 2 runs in the bottom half of the inning and never looked back, increasing the lead every single inning until it reached the 10-3 final. Of the 7 pitchers LSU used (all of which recorded an inning at the least), only 3 allowed a hit. On the offensive side of things, it wasn't anything spectacular, just a hit parade led by Andrew Stevenson with 3. Zrau summed up the game the best when he said it was the "quietest blowout possible", because that's a very fine way to say it.
Or the actual game was. There was a lengthy rain delay just after first inning, which really just set the mood for the rest of the weekend.
(NOTE: The official reason for the mishap with the tarp was the the tarp was brand new and for lack of a better term, was not broken in yet. Once we actually got the tarp unfolded, there was too much water on the tarp to properly pull it.)
In the nightcap (9:15 start time), UNCW boatraced Tulane after dropping a 7 spot on the board in the 4th. By all accounts it was a very boring game, with the UNCW's Ryan Foster providing a complete game that set the Seahawks up nicely with their entire bullpen available to throw against LSU.
The best laid plans of mice and men...
Report Time: 1:30 PM
Exit Time: 2:30 PM
Total Time: 13 hours
Tarp Time: 3 hours, 15 minutes
Every Tulane player recorded a hit as the Green Wave gave Lehigh a 2 and Q exit in the NCAA tournament. Corey Merrill allowed 3 hits during 5 innings of work and gave way to Tim Yandell, who allowed 2 in 4. Tyler Wilson and Jake Rogers alone accounted for 7 runs.
But nothing is ever easy, and in the bottom of the 5th the rains came.
We were rewarded though, and at 10:15 the fireworks show began. Alex Lange took the bump and began throwing smoke that vanished into the hot and humid night before it reached the batter. Lange recorded 12 strikeouts and allowed half as many hits, clipping the 100 K mark on the season becoming the first LSU freshman to do so.
But the runs simply were not there and from my spot on row 1 of section 101 it looked like Lange would have to be pulled late in favor of a long reliever, a move made in anticipation of extra innings. And then in the top of the 7th Scivicque ripped a double off the wall and was scored by consecutive Stevenson and Chinea singles. It would turn out that's all Lange needed to cruise to the finish, but LSU tacked on an insurance run for good measure.
Lange's performance was the stuff of legends, especially since the fact that the last pitch of the game came 1:09 AM only adds to the lore. But it was more than a legend. It was the mark of a great ball club. All year, LSU has been using it's offense as a crutch to make up for a spotty bullpen and the lack of a 3rd starter. But when the offense wasn't there in the biggest game of the year thus far, the pitching doubled down and bore the load, carrying the team to the finish line.
Obviously we won't see a CGSO from Lange every start the rest of the way, but it inspires so much confidence going forward.
Report Time: 1:30 PM
Exit Time: 10:15 PM
Total Time: 8 hours, 45 minutes
Tarp Time: 3 hours
Sunday was a bad day. We were in a delay before the UNCW-Tulane rematch began. Fortunately, the teams decided to play anyway. Just not baseball.
rain delay life pic.twitter.com/PzosQLA4Do— Adam Box Stadium (@AdamATVS) May 31, 2015
Eventually the game started and the Seahawks put up a 6 spot in the 3rd, cruising their way to another comfortable win over Tulane, this one to the tune of 8-2 behind a Nick Monroe 8 2/3 outing that once again, should have given UNCW a fresh bullpen to burn against LSU to keep them off their toes.
And then, the announcement happened. Now I agree that it is the NCAA's tournament to do as they please, dropping the bomb in the 8th inning was just in the worst taste imaginable. LSU fans were there, maybe not in the tens of thousand but there nonetheless, sitting through the end of a blowout to see their Tigers play. And they may have made the decision to give UNCW a breather, which completely undermines the theory of the "loser's bracket". Of course Wilmington was at a disadvantage, they lost the game vs. LSU. But there's no use to crying over spilled milk, and The Gannett Native Who Shall Not Be Named got his wish, and we got the opportunity to #PlayTwoMonday.
Report Time: 10:30 AM
Exit Time: 3:20 PM
Total Time: 5 hours
Tarp Time: None, none more tarp.
LSU won their 21st regional title with Jared Poche agreeing to play Alex Lange's absurd game of HORSE. And...I'm sorry, there's just no way I can pretend that Jared Poche going 8 2/3 with 8 K's is anywhere near a bad thing, even jokingly. LSU gave Poche all the support he needed in the 2nd with Chinea doubling down the left field line, scoring Stevenson and then Fraley knocking Chinea home. Once again, against almost anybody else UNCW would have done enough to win. The Seahawk bullpen kept the Tiger offense suppressed after that, but LSU won the pitching and fielding matchups.
It sucks that Poche couldn't finish it off but with the tying run on the plate with a runner on second, Paul did what had to be done. It sucks, but it happens. There's no shame at going 8 2/3 and not the clean 9. Bugg was able to get the save and send LSU to the Supers for a date with USL.