LSU baseball not on fire, but making steady progress

BATON ROUGE – Nothing spectacular. Just another Southeastern Conference series win over the weekend for the LSU baseball team, which remained the highest ranked SEC team in the polls on Monday at No. 8 in USA Today and in the top 10 across the board.

The Tigers (25-12 overall, 9-6 SEC) are just at No. 17 in the Ratings Percentage Index after beating Ole Miss two out of three, but that is still solid and there is plenty of time to move up in that category. By definition, LSU will rise in the RPI if it finishes high in the SEC. At the moment, the Tigers are two games out of first in the SEC West and in the overall league standings behind Arkansas (29-8, 11-4 SEC), which it just beat two out of three last weekend in Fayetteville.

Yet, remnants of the catastrophe syndrome remain in Tigerdom as LSU had the audacity to lose, 4-1, to the Rebels on Friday after a 15-2 win the day before.

“If we’re not winning every game by 10 runs and striking out 15, something’s wrong,” said LSU senior second baseman Cole Freeman, who is apparently wise beyond his 22 years.

In truth, nothing is wrong. The Tigers are right where they need to be. The pitching remains strong, and the offense continues to be good enough for the most part and show flashes.

LSU will be on the road for the next two weekends, and with a 4-2 or 5-1 run at No. 13, SEC East leading Kentucky (25-12, 10-5 SEC) and at woeful Alabama (14-22, 2-13 SEC), the Tigers will improve on that RPI with valuable road wins.

“You know Friday wasn’t a bad game for us either,” Freeman said of the 4-1 loss in which the Tigers outhit the Rebels, 7-6, but left seven on to two by Ole Miss. The Rebels also hit four solo home runs. LSU’s only extra base hits were a pair of doubles.

“We swung it well,” Freeman said. “They just hit four home runs. We’d like to put up more than one run, but we played a real good game. This was a really good weekend for us. We played well all around – defense, offense, pitching.”

The Tigers committed zero errors on the weekend with one spectacular catch by Freeman to save the 3-2 win Saturday, and all three starting pitchers reached at least the seventh inning.

In the long run and at that long ballpark known as the ridiculously pitcher overfriendly TD Ameritrade in Omaha, pitching and defense like that bode well.

LSU RECORD: 25-12 overall, 9-6 in the SEC for fourth in the West.

LATEST RANKINGS: No. 8 in USA Today, No. 8 last week. No. 9 in D1 Baseball, No. 9 last week. No. 9 in Baseball America, No. 9 last week.

RPI: No. 17, No. 15 last week.

LAST WEEK: W Louisiana-Lafayette, 3-2; W Ole Miss, 15-2; L Ole Miss, 4-1, W Ole Miss, 3-2.

NEXT UP: Lamar (22-15, 9-9), coached by former LSU player and assistant coach Will Davis, 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Alex Box Stadium.

THIS WEEKEND: at No. 13 Kentucky (25-12, 10-5 SEC East for first), 5:30 p.m. Friday, 5:30 p.m. Saturday and noon Sunday.

BY THE NUMBERS: LSU beat Ole Miss 15-2 with 15 hits on Thursday night, then lost 4-1 with seven hits on Friday. … The Tigers have won 19 straight home series over Ole Miss dating back to 10-2 and 11-5 wins over the Rebels in 1983 – the last year of Coach Jack Lamabe. Ole Miss’ last series win in Baton Rouge was in the season’s final weekend in 1982 when the Rebels lost the opener 4-3, but won the next two, 3-0 and 8-0.

STAT OF THE WEEK: Greg Deichmann hit .385 (5-for-13) in the three games against Ole Miss with a grand slam home run and a solo homer, six RBIs, a double, a stolen base and three runs scored.

SEASON STATS: Record: 25-12. Team Batting Average: .295, led by Greg Deichmann, .345. Opponent Batting Average: .226. Team ERA: 3.49, led by Matthew Beck, 0.60. Home Runs: 32, led by Greg Deichmann, 12. RBIs: 235, led by Greg Deichmann, 43. Stolen Bases: 40-58, led by Antoine Duplantis, 11-14, and Cole Freeman, 11-16.

BEAU’S BEIGNETS: Freshman outfielder Zach Watson of Ruston is riding an 11-game hitting streak and is hitting .359 (14-for-39) over that span with one home run, three RBIs, six runs scored, two doubles, one triple and two stolen bases.

Gannett Louisiana


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