Scooter Hobbs column: LSU could do with a mundane style

Published 10:00 am Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Not to worry. LSU baseball will be just fine.

No, that wasn’t the prettiest season exit the Tigers ever made in losing an exciting, if occasionally slapstick, affair to Southern Miss, 8-7, in Monday’s NCAA regional championship game.

No shame there.

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After all, Southern Miss was in the midst of outplaying LSU for a third consecutive game and getting a victory for the just second time in a row.

Probably should not have taken three tries.

So it shouldn’t have surprised first-year LSU head coach Jay Johnson as much as it did. The Tigers got to the regional championship despite playing a terrifying, cover-your-eyes game of chicken against Victory most of the season, seemingly always daring Defeat to blink first in a stare-down.

It made for an exhausting year for fans, players and coaches alike. Now that it is over, nobody seems sure what they have just seen.

Yet when that NCAA Tournament gig was up, when the Tigers had exhausted all alternative means of winning, Johnson could still say, “I fully believed we would win today. Until the last strike I believed we would win.”

Good for him. A head coach should be thinking like that.

Never mind that, in the end, Southern Miss won because the Golden Eagles were the better team. Nothing more complicated or cerebral than that.

LSU couldn’t teeter on a tightrope forever and keep winning.

But if you can come back from seven runs down in the eighth inning one day (Kennesaw State) and four runs down in the ninth against the nation’s second-best pitching staff the very next (Southern Miss), maybe you start to feel invincible.

And, believe me, the raucous Southern Miss crowd, as loud as it got, never got comfortable until the Golden Eagles starting dog-piling. Those good people had been caught premature celebrating before LSU’s four-run, ninth-inning shocker on Saturday, and had learned their lesson by Monday.

You could almost see and feel the pins and needles the Golden Eagles’ fans were sitting on as the Tigers went quietly in the ninth inning of Monday’s finale.

Those fans weren’t assuming anything by then, even in a game LSU had already gift-wrapped for them.

LSU’s players, too, seemed as shocked as Johnson that they didn’t win Monday’s game.

“There was never a thought in my mind that we were going to lose that game,” said LSU’s best player, Dylan Crews. “I’m at a loss for words right now.”

Good for them, too.

There will no doubt be a day when Johnson’s confidence is warranted even without the implied threat of Houdini escape acts.

Quick reaction to the season just ended: LSU was talented team, but one with a whole lot a flaws and almost as many holes in the roster.