If you had any illusions of LSU putting it all together and playing their best baseball to ensure retiring legendary head coach Paul Mainieri gets a proper sendoff, rid yourself of the notion.
LSU lost their first regional opener since 1985 to Gonzaga 3-0, and it was far uglier than the scoreline indicated.
“Needless to say, very disappointing outcome to the game tonight for us,” Mainieri said.
They couldn’t hit Gonzaga pitcher Alek Jacob, looking downright lost at the plate against pitches that appeared to be sub-70 miles per hour. The ones they did manage to luckily make contact with were largely inoffensive pop-ups, and when they did manage to get a solid hit, they couldn’t find another or find a way to move it across.
LSU only picked up four hits in the game, none of which came after the fifth inning. They popped out five times and hit many more inoffensive fly balls while striking out nine times and coaxing just a walk.
“When you don’t score any runs, you can’t win. And that was the story of the game,” Mainieri said. “We just didn’t get a lot of good swings against him.”
Jacob pitched a complete game, and the way LSU was swinging wildly and without intent, he probably could have pitched 12 innings Friday night without landing in serious danger.
In the field, LSU looked like they had never played on a turf field. They booted balls, threw wide, and struggled to track down balls all night. The relievers couldn’t consistently stay inside the strike zone and pitched themselves into hot water.
The only Tiger who seemed up to task was Landon Marceaux. He pitched 5.2 innings where he allowed all three earned runs on seven hits with three walks and three stikeouts, but his day was limited by getting into trouble early in the game and inflating his pitch count, which was 101 when he was pulled in the sixth inning.
“Landon pitched his heart out like he always does,” Mainieri said.
In a vacuum it was a one out away from a quality start, but with LSU looking like a six year old playing The Show on Hall of Fame for the first time, it was never going to be good enough to put LSU into the winner’s bracket.
Now LSU will face Central Connecticut in an elimination game Saturday at 3:00 p.m., the first of four games in a row they need to win to keep Mainieri’s final season alive.
“You can’t sit around and mope about this,” Mainieri said. “It’s over with and we have to turn the page and take it one game at a time. If you start thinking about winning the tournament and how many games we have to win, it becomes a very daunting task. So let’s not worry about that. Let’s win tomorrow and regroup after the game and then we’ll worry about the next game.”