Tigers in search of lucky No. 13

LSU (35-16-1, 15-11-1 SEC) celebrated Mother's Day, and the final regular season weekend at Alex Box Stadium, with a sweep of Mississippi State (20-32, 7-20 SEC). The Tigers have four very important regular season games remaining beginning with UNO on Tuesday night.

Sunday’s 9-6 win over Mississippi State marked three straight SEC sweeps for LSU for the first time since 1991.

 

After the game, the Tigers joined LSU Athletic Director Skip Bertman along with several generations of former LSU players in honoring Alex Box Stadium in front of a capacity crowd.

 

“We are going to enjoy this victory and celebration for another four or five hours,” LSU coach Paul Mainieri said. “Then, we’ll start thinking about UNO on Tuesday and Auburn on the weekend. We are going to get ourselves refocused and put winning streaks and playoffs out of our minds for now.”

 

Mississippi State pushed hard to end LSU’s winning streak on Sunday but when it was all said and done the Tigers won their 12th game in a row.

 

The win completes LSU’s most impressive series of the season. The Tigers out-hit the Bulldogs 46 to 33 and outscored them 40 to 16 on the way to the sweep.

 

Some of the great LSU teams of the past made their mark by playing gorilla ball and this year’s version of the Tigers took the fans back down memory lane as they blasted eight homeruns over the course of the weekend.

 

Ryan Schimpf continues to hit the ball well of late and homered three times, knocked in seven runs and finished 6-of-11 at the plate over the weekend.

 

Blake Dean has been LSU’s hottest hitter during the winning streak and he went 5-for-11 from the dish with a pair of solo homers. Over the last 12 games, he is 21-for-48 at the plate and is hitting .438 during that stretch.

 

D. J. LeMahieu also had a terrific weekend in the field as he made several nice plays deep in the hole at shortstop and he went 7-for-12 on the offensive end.

 

Going into the weekend, Matt Clark was third in the SEC in homers and he belted his 18th long ball of the season and is still in third behind Gordon Beckham of Georgia and Justin Smoak of South Carolina with 22 and 19, respectively.

 

Clark has been LSU’s biggest threat to go yard all season long and he is sitting at fifth overall in the conference in slugging percentage at .704.

 

LSU’s pitching staff surrendered more hits and runs than Mainieri and pitching coach Terry Rooney would have like to have seen but you must take all of the festivities and pressure of playing the final regular season series at the Box into consideration, along with the youth factor.

 

The three starters (Ryan Verdugo, Blake Martin, and Jared Bradford) yielded 23 hits over the three games and combined for a 6.97 ERA.

 

Martin was the highlight of the weekend on the hill as he came through with a superb outing on Saturday where he gave up only two hits and two earned runs over seven innings and he fanned eight Bulldogs.

 

Daniel Bradshaw continues to shine out of the bullpen as he went 2.2 innings on Sunday and allowed only one hit with no earned runs. He has now allowed only one earned run over the last 17.2 innings he has worked and has proven that he is someone Mainieri can turn to as a closer, a setup man, or even as a starter if Jordan Brown has lingering effects from his sprained ankle.

 

All in all, Mainieri said despite the success, there is still work to do.

 

“I’m going to get the guys back into a good frame of mind to compete and continue to take the fight to the teams we play,” he said. “I’m so proud of what our players have accomplished to this point, and we’re looking forward to continuing.”

 

With just a 1.5 game lead in the SEC West, the Tigers would do well to maintain their focus for the final four regular season matchups.

 

Alabama, Ole Miss, and Arkansas are all still in the hunt for the SEC Western Division Championship as the Crimson Tide and Rebels are both 14-13, while the Hawgs are 13-13 heading into the weekend.

 

Alabama has a tough series this weekend as it travels to play the team with the best record in the SEC in Georgia, while Ole Miss hosts a Kentucky squad that is coming off a successful weekend sweep of Tennessee.

 

Arkansas has a Mississippi State squad coming in that will be looking to send Ron Polk out as a winner so despite the struggles the Bulldogs have had the series should not be taken lightly by the Hawgs.

 

The Tigers will travel to the Plains to face an Auburn team that is 27-25 overall and 11-16 in conference play. Auburn needs a series sweep and then a lot of help from many other schools to get into the SEC Tournament.

 

The last time LSU traveled to Samford Stadium the Tigers left with a three-game sweep and a repeat performance would make a strong impression on the NCAA Selection Committee and possibly give the Tigers one more chance to play at Alex Box Stadium in a few weeks.

 

For LSU, though, first thing is first and that is take care of business on Tuesday when it faces UNO in the Wally Pontiff Jr. Classic on Tuesday at Zephyr Field.

 

The Tigers are currently sitting at No. 23 in the RPI according to Boyd’s World and UNO is only four spots behind at No. 27.

 

There can be no letdown by this young LSU club and UNO can’t be taken lightly.

 

UNO proved that it can beat the Tigers earlier in the season when they scored two runs in the top of the ninth to take an 8-6 win over LSU at Alex Box and then took a one-run decision in New Orleans.

 

The Privateers (38-13, 18-8 Sun Belt Conference) will enter the contest riding a 13-game winning streak and have swept their last three weekends of conference play which set a school record with nine straight Sun Belt wins.

 

If the Tigers play with the same intensity and determination they have played with for the last three weeks there is no reason their winning streak cantt be extended to 13 games.

 

However, if they get caught looking ahead to Auburn then the only streak that will be extended is UNO’s which would give the Privateers 14 straight wins including four over LSU dating back to last season.


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