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Tigers Sweep Tide as SEC West Race Tightens

The Tigers were looking to rebound from a rough couple of weeks of baseball, and boy oh boy, did they find a team willing to help them do that in the Crimson Tide of Alabama. LSU showed a marked improvement in many areas of the team as the hapless Bammers did all they could to help the process.

Starting Pitching was still not quite stellar for LSU over the weekend, but it was a much more enjoyable outing compared to facing Kentucky’s murderous lineup the previous weekend. Alex Lange went 7.1 IP, with a marvelous 10/1 K/BB ratio. His only blemish on the night came on 1 pitch when he gave up a 2 run HR to right to Bama catcher Alex Webb in the 2nd inning. Jared Poché had a decent outing, spreading 7 hits and 4 runs (2 by solo shot HRs) over 5.2 IP. Eric Walker closed the weekend with a shaky 7 hits and 3 runs over just 4.1 IP, but luckily the LSU bullpen had it’s best weekend in ages to hold on for the 3 game sweep.

Indeed, for the first time in quite a while, the LSU bullpen surrendered zero runs for an entire weekend. Particularly impressive were Zack Hess’ 2.2 innings of hitless ball in Game 2 and the double appearances of Nick Bush and Hunter Newman, with Newman earning his sixth save of the year in Game 2 and only giving up a single hit while pitching the two extra innings of Game 3, good enough to give Newman his first win of the year.

At the plate, Coach Mainieri shuffled the lineup and the changes produced some encouraging results. It was built around a 3-4-5 core of powerhouse Greg Deichmann, hot-hitting Fr 1B Nick Coomes, and the struggling but scuffling team leader Kramer Robertson. This trio combined for 13 hits and 7 RBIs. Overall, the Tigers had 32 hits on the weekend, though things slowed a little in Game 3 where LSU was held to just 8 hits over the 11 inning game. While the results were encouraging, it really is tough to judge if the cause was improvement at the plate or Bama’s sub-standard pitching and defense. Despite the “resignation” of Mitch Gaspard last season, it appears the Tide have still not yet hit rock-bottom as they are on a collision course with a 25-loss SEC season.

We knew there would not be much to learn from this series, but it was important that LSU didn’t relax and fought hard for the sweep anyway, because the SEC West race got insanely tight over the weekend and conference wins wont come cheap in LSU’s remaining weekends. Thanks to Ole Miss taking 2 wins at Fayetteville, and Auburn gutting out 2 wins in Starkville, 2 series that both featured 9-inning doubleheaders due to weather, LSU now stands just a single game back of the West division lead. The bad news is that so are Arkansas and A&M, while Auburn and State are tied for the lead. Auburn will finally get their turn at pummeling Alabama next weekend and will no-doubt get the sweep, so the rest of the division will be desperate to keep pace.

Tigers have the week off for finals, then begin the final 8-game home stand of the season on Friday night with South Carolina.