I’ll be honest. Between it being the busy season at my real life job, Mardi Gras, and yet another LSU disaster in the state of Texas, I was unable to find the motivation to write about what transpired in Austin over the weekend. Luckily, there are many highly talented individuals on the LSU Baseball beat who do excellent jobs. Allow me to share the best of their work picking up the pieces.
The obvious big issue from the weekend is that Hess and Marceaux struggled mightily and the staff as a whole gave up a ridiculous 21 walks in the first two games. How do you solve that? Were Hess’ struggles caused by the liner he took in the arm? Mainieri readily admits that he probably should have taken Hess out of the game early after that injury. Marceaux is a freshman, and even one as highly touted as he can struggled under the bright lights of a road weekend that had a regional feel. Will Walker or Hilliard be able to step up once they get back up to speed? And to add to these struggles, we now know that Gilbert’s recovery from offseason surgery isn’t going well and Hill is still down with shoulder soreness. Managing all these issues and finding a winning combination is going to be a tough job for Mainieri and Alan Dunn, especially coming off a preseason where the pitching was billed as the highlight of this team. It will start with Ma’Khail Hilliard getting a midweek start tonight against Holy Cross.
But pitching alone wasn’t the cause of this weekend’s sweep. LSU’s lineup beyond the top 3 of the order (and Professional Hitter Chris Reid, who batted his way from the bench into a start on Sunday) had 3 hits all weekend. In general the offense felt like it totally disappeared, like one of those bad road weekends of years past at Vandy or Florida. The Tigers have to find that swing back and fast, because conference play is shaping up to be a nightmare. The SEC has ELEVEN teams ranked in the Top 25 this week, and LSU will play 7 of them. If there arent more than three batters in the lineup making consistent contact, it wont matter if the pitching problems get fixed.
The only saving grace of this mess is that it happened now, and not in conference play. As bad as it was to watch this weekend (and by the way, here’s your official reminder to CANCEL THE LONGHORN NETWORK) the reason for playing tough opponents is to find out who you are. Nobody likes LSU’s “tomato can” heavy OOC-slate because blowout games are no way to learn about your team. Luckily, the wake-up call came with enough time to make adjustments before Kentucky comes to town in two weeks.