WHAT. A. WIN. No better way to celebrate Coach Mainieri's 1,400th career win than walk-off fashion, courtesy of Daniel Cabrera! Rewatch that homer one more time and all of the highlights from LSU's Sunday Sweep against Tennessee! pic.twitter.com/TqfrUYyDbQ
— LSU Baseball (@LSUbaseball) April 16, 2018
The LSU Tigers always seem to conjure up some baseball magic this time of year.
As one of the dominant programs in the country, LSU traditionally turns it on when April gives way to May, and then to June.
If you don’t believe it, check the record — 29 NCAA tournament appearances, 18 trips to the College World Series and six national titles.
Last year, the Tigers won 52 games.
They advanced all the way to the championship round in the CWS, only to lose in two straight games to Florida.
Oddly, LSU has found itself in something of a struggle ever since.
The Tigers are only seven games over .500 this season.
They’ve lost six of their last eight, including two of three last week at Ole Miss.
Even more mysterious, LSU might be viewed as something of an underdog this weekend when its hosts the fourth-ranked Arkansas Razorbacks.
A three-game SEC series between Arkansas (32-13, 13-8) and LSU (26-19, 10-11) opens Friday night at Alex Box Stadium.
It’s strange, really.
With the month of May looming, LSU is not among the hot teams in the SEC.
Florida is coming off a 2-2 week, but the Gators (36-10, 16-5) are still ranked No. 1 in the nation by Baseball America.
Ole Miss (34-11, 12-9) is third and Arkansas fourth.
The Hogs have played perhaps the best ball of anyone of late, knocking off Texas Tech last Wednesday before sweeping Alabama for a 4-0 week.
Meanwhile, LSU has lost its last two SEC series, losing all three at South Carolina two weeks ago and then dropping the series at Ole Miss after blowing a late three-run lead and losing 9-8 Sunday.
The Tigers have had trouble with their pitching all year. The team’s ERA is 4.56, which is 12th out of 14 SEC teams.
Middle relief pitching, in particular, has haunted LSU in series-opening losses to South Carolina and Ole Miss over the past few weeks.
If it happens again this weekend, the explosive Razorbacks could put up a lot of runs.
We’ll see if the Tigers’ mojo or magic, or whatever you want to call it, can start to turn that around against the Hogs, who lead the conference in batting (.310) and home runs (69).
After all, it is that time of year.
Baseball America Top 25
1. Florida 36-10 SEC
2. Stanford 33-6 Pac-12
3. Ole Miss 34-11 SEC
4. Arkansas 32-13 SEC
5. North Carolina 31-13 ACC
6. Oregon State 32-7 Pac-12
7. North Carolina State 31-11 ACC
8. UCLA 29-10 Pac-12
9. Texas Tech 33-12 Big 12
10. Clemson 34-11 ACC
11. Duke 33-11 ACC
12. Kentucky 29-15 SEC
13. Southern Miss 32-11 Conference USA
14. East Carolina 30-12 American
15. Coastal Carolina 31-14 Sun Belt
16. Florida State 31-14 ACC
17. Vanderbilt 25-18 SEC
18. Indiana 31-10 Big Ten
19. Oklahoma State 27-14 Big 12
20. Texas 30-17 Big 12
21. Houston 28-16 American
22. Minnesota 28-12 Big Ten
23. South Florida 29-15 American
24. Georgia 30-14 SEC
25. Tennessee Tech 37-6 Ohio Valley
?'d up the sweep! (first time since 2010 with three SEC series sweeps).
On to Baton Rouge.https://t.co/5VWhs35asa
— Razorback Baseball (@RazorbackBSB) April 30, 2018