Mainieri baffled by Tigers' Sunday woes

Sunday, bloody Sunday. Bloody might be overreaching, but it is not far off from how Sunday's have treated the LSU baseball team throughout conference play.

First-year LSU coach Paul Mainieri doesn't like the fact that he often begins post-game interviews with the media saying, "In 25 years of coaching, I have never seen a game like that." Not many coaches would enjoy the ups and downs of LSU's season thus far, but the veteran skipper has managed to keep his cool with the success of his team.


"There are certain things I saw this weekend that I am certain I have never seen," Mainieri said following the Sunday matchup against Mississippi two weeks ago. "I have never seen a catcher's interference on a punt attempt. That was a first of all time. I have never seen a game end like this one.


"It's been a very frustrating weekend. Obviously there were a lot of things that went wrong for us this weekend. There is also some positive things. Yesterday and today we could have easily won 2-of-3 ballgames. We couldn't get over the bad breaks. We are going to take it like men and come back."


Despite walk-off home runs being called back and blown leads, Mainieri and his Tigers continue to chalk up wins as they proceed through Southeastern Conference play on their way to Hoover, Ala. for the conference tournament.


The Tigers dropped an important game Sunday when they fell to Tennessee 10-9 in the 10th inning, but their season looks brighter than most believed would be at this point of the year.


"You have to overcome," Mainieri said. "You have to have the ability and makeup to overcome whatever happens. Some guys don't have the ability to do it. You can't look at one call or one pitch. It's all about getting it done and we didn't get it done today."


Traditionally, an SEC team that hovers around .500 usually is invited to the conference tournament. The Tigers are 24-20-1 overall, and 9-11-1 in conference play. If LSU could have back games like Sunday against Tennessee, the two final matchups against Kentucky and the final game against Ole Miss, which were all winnable at one point of the contest, LSU's post season hopes would be a lot different.


If luck would have turned the Tigers way, LSU would have won five-of-six series in conference play, dropping a series only to Auburn; a weekend LSU just did not play well.


The Tigers had won five straight series against Tennessee overall until Sunday, including eight of the last 10 series. The series lose hurts because they had many opportunities to win according to Mainieri and players Sunday, but couldn't pull out the win.


"I knew we were not out of it," Ochinko said. "We have played great ball. Have done well in the SEC these last four weekends. In the beginning we ended up taking the lead, but it was really tough not getting the win after playing for four and a half hours."


If LSU regroups from their lose to Tennessee, the Tigers could find themselves sitting nicely as the season ends. Three conference series remain on LSU's schedule, with travel dates to Arkansas, back home for the Florida Gators and then end the regular season on the road in Nashville at Vanderbilt.


"You have to keep trying to teach," Mainieri said. "You just wish they could retain sometimes. You tell guys things and they keep doing them over and over. It's frustrating. My list is long with coaching points.


"Some guys have the capability to not be coached that much. They rely on their ability. But if they rely on their ability instead of playing the game smart, then they better be pretty good. I don't think we have players good enough to not play the game smart."


Arkansas currently leads the SEC Western Division with a conference record of 15-6. The Razorbacks are tied with Vanderbilt for the best record in the league, which means LSU still must face the two top teams in the league.


The Gators of Florida are not far off, sporting a 10-11 record in conference play, but lost the tie-breaker against Vanderbilt in the eastern division with the Commodore sweep this past weekend.


Going into the weekend series with Tennessee, LSU stood in fourth place in the SEC Western Division with an 8-9-1 conference mark, and the Tigers were in seventh place in the overall league standings. The conference tournament only includes the top eight conference teams at the end of the regular season.


If the season would end today, LSU would be tied with Kentucky as the eighth team in the conference tournament due to their Sunday tie earlier in the season. Tennessee would not be invited, neither would Auburn, Georgia or Alabama.

Tiger Blitz Top Stories