LSU took to Oxford on Wednesday for their Thursday-Saturday series with Ole Miss with a cloud hanging over them. After costly errors became the difference in a series with Mississippi State and Tulane humbled the Tigers in New Orleans, Paul Mainieri's ball club had to right the ship in order to keep their hopes of hosting in the postseason off of life support.
We're currently waiting in the ICU.
A lot of blame is being placed on Jordan Romero wrongfully being ejected in game two and suspended for game three of the series and the Errol Robinson slide that was exactly the same but resulted in the deciding run of the series, but for the second week in a row, Jared Poche' was terrible. I'm not here to mince words anymore, and twice Thursday the inconsistent LSU offense spotted Poche' a two run lead and twice Poche' promptly gave it up.
The weekend started off on a high note when Antoine Duplantis and Jake Fraley lead off back to back singles in the first. Duplantis scored on a throwing error on a double steal and Romero sacrificed Fraley home for a two run lead. Poche' gave up the lead when he gave up three straight doubles.
After a second inning that only held a Chris Reid double, LSU put two more back on the board in the third when two singles from Fraley and Kramer Robertson set the stage for a Jordan Romero double. Once again, Poche' gave up the lead. Once again, three doubles were allowed in the inning.
LSU took the lead again in the sixth when Reid was brought home by a Cole Freeman groundout, but Ole Miss would take charge of the sixth against Parker Bugg with a three run inning when Robinson tripled home a run before scoring his dubious run. Chandler Rome of The Advocate has a detailed explanation of both calls for you to read up on, but Ole Miss would put up another run gifted by a wild pitch and a throwing error.
Long story short, Robinson should have been out for failing to slide on a play at the plate. He didn't and was ruled safe. Like I said last week, those are the breaks and how you react is more important than the calls at times. But I don't like putting blame on that call and giving Jared Poche' a pass for the second week in a row for a lackluster pitching performance where he was gifted a lead twice and both times passed on it.
LSU would put up a run in the seventh when Kramer Robertson was hit by a pitch, advanced on a Romero single, and scored on a fielder's choice induced by Deichmann. That would be all in game one for LSU as Wyatt Short would make quick work of LSU.
Alex Lange, in all his Alex Lange-ness, would level the playing field by dropping them in a wheel barrel and going to work. Lange turned in a masterful performance, his only imperfections a triple followed by a J.B. Woodman home run in the first and an unearned run from an error in the fourth. Lange went the distance, hanging seven up to dry and only issuing a single walk.
Unlike last week, LSU would support Alex with six runs, starting in the first inning with a Jordan Romero sac fly scoring Antoine Duplantis and continued in the second when a Bryce Jordan double lead to two productive groundouts from Deichmann and Reid, culminating in the third when Jordan Romero homered to left with Kramer on base.
After Ole Miss got one back on the error to draw within one, LSU answered in the sixth with a Deichmann double which would put him in position to score on a throwing error from the pitcher. Reid walked after Deichmann, and he scored on a Duplantis groundout to second for the final run of the game.
However, Jordan Romero would be ejected in bottom of the 5th for a "malicious slide" that was hardly different from the one Errol Robinson enacted Thursday night.
But that's no excuse for LSU's pitiful performance at the plate Saturday, where until the eighth inning they were a woeful 0-11 at the plate with runners in scoring position. It doesn't matter that Ole Miss dropped eight runs on LSU, three was more than plenty. In fact, you may as well chalk the two runs LSU did score in the eighth inning Saturday to indifference. After 12 runs in the fist two games, the well ran dry for LSU. If something could go wrong for LSU, it did. The team that fought like hell for two games failed to show up when they absolutely needed to.
Believe it or not, LSU is still a young team. But that doesn't make it any less frustrating. Even though there are really only two freshman in the starting lineup, most of the starters are really just now getting used to to being a full-time starter at the D1 level. We knew this was a rebuilding year from the get go but we also thought that the pitching staff would anchor the team instead of the offense, as was the case last year. While John Valek III has had two rocky outings the past two weeks, he has still been a tremendous blessing in light of the most recent Jake Latz injury. While we never knew how good exactly Latz could have been, losing the possibility of him being a solid three starter was huge. Jared Poche' struggling only makes a dire situation worse.
All of a sudden, LSU's resume is bolstered tightly to the series win against Vanderbilt. Their only two other series wins are against the bottom two teams in each division. There are only three series left, against Arkansas, at Tennessee, and Florida with a midweek trip to Notre Dame in the mix. Suddenly, LSU is in absolute must-win territory in all three series in addition to a strong showing in Hoover to stay in the mix for postseason contention.
LSU takes what is likely a much needed reprieve from the diamond for finals week (meaning you won't hear from me on the projections front) before picking up again at home with Arkansas on Friday. Friday's 7:00 first pitch will be broadcast on SECN+ while Saturday's 6:30 game will be on ESPNU, with the finale on Saturday starting at 1 on SECN+.
Game 1 - LSU 6, Ole Miss 7
Game 2 - LSU 6, Ole Miss 3
Game 3 - LSU 2, Ole Miss 8