Last Modified: Wednesday, May 08, 2013 10:07 PM
LSU travels to Texas A&M for a Southeastern Conference series beginning tonight, the Tigers’ first trip to College Station since 1990.
But it was the next-to-last trip, a year earlier for the NCAA Central Regional hosted by the Aggies, that both schools still remember.
The last LSU game at what is now Blue Bell Park was a 5-2 victory, which salvaged the final game of a weekend series after A&M won the first two.
But the previous year at A&M was perhaps the greatest moment, non-Omaha division, in LSU’s storied baseball history.
When Sunday, May 28, 1989 dawned, the Aggies were ranked No. 1 in the country with a gaudy 58-5 record and were being touted as one of the best teams in college baseball history.
LSU had lost its second game of what was then a marathon, six-team regional, but lumbered back through the loser’s bracket, winning two games on the Saturday.
The Tigers still had to beat the Aggies twice on Sunday.
They won the first game 13-5 behind All-America right-hander Ben McDonald.
Head coach Skip Bertman pieced together a committee of pitchers for the second game, which LSU eventually won in the 11th inning on seldom-used Pat Garrity’s pinch-hit RBI double just fair off the right-field wall to earn Bertman’s third trip to the College World Series.
“I know a lot of LSU fans still talk to me about that game,” LSU head coach Paul Mainieri said.
McDonald, who would be the No. 1 pick in the First-Year Player draft that June, said this week that over the years he has constantly heard from A&M fans who remember the day not so fondly.
None of the current players on either team were born when the Tigers pulled off that ultimate daily double.
But Mainieri said he doesn’t expect a warm welcome when the Tigers open play tonight.
“We’re excited about it,” Mainieri said. “We get to see what their ballpark looks like and what their fan experience is like.”
All three games will be televised.
The third-ranked Tigers (43-6, 19-5 SEC) lead the SEC West by 31⁄2 games over Arkansas but trail Vanderbilt in the over standings by 21⁄2 games.
“It doesn’t seem like they (Vanderbilt) want to lose, and neither does Arkansas,” Mainieri said. “I can’t do anything about what Arkansas and Vanderbilt do.
“We did what we could do against Arkansas, we beat them two out of three. We don’t get a chance to play Vanderbilt, so there’s not much we can do there. We’d have to get help.
“So I just concern myself with my own team. It would be a wonderful thing if we could clinch the SEC West this weekend.”
Mainieri said he will stick with the tweak to the pitching rotation that he made last week for the first of three consecutive Thursday-Friday series.
Left-hander Cody Glenn, who three weeks ago was in danger in losing his spot in the SEC rotation, will again start the opening game.
He had his best start of the season while getting no decision in LSU’s opening 3-2 win over Florida last Thursday.
It allows LSU ace Aaron Nola to get a full week’s rest before pitching Friday, with Ryan Eades to follow on Saturday.
Game 1 —LSU, LH Cody Glenn (5-1, 2.93 ERA vs. A&M, RH Daniel Mengden (5-3, 2.10).
Game 2 — LSU, RH Aaron Nola (9-0, 1.92) vs. A&M, RH Parker Ray (0-1, 1.85).
Game 3 —LSU, RH Ryan Eades (8-1, 2.36) vs. A&M, Rafael Pineda (5-4, 2.87).