Waiting game: LSU’s fate in hands of NCAA committee Dawgs score four in first inning

Scooter Hobbs

So the squirming begins for LSU.

Rarely have two plays produced so much anxiety for the Tigers, who’d like to think they’d already sewn up a bid to the NCAA Tournament entering the Southeastern Conference Tournament.

But it got a little more iffy after a 4-1 loss to Georgia in Tuesday’s first round to send the Tigers home early from Hoover, Alabama, where they’ve had so much fun in the past.

“We have to take it and accept our fate,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri, who had never lost on opening day of the tournament.

“It’s not a good position to be in,” he added about the NCAA Tournament. “It’s not fun to be at the mercy of the selection committee.

“I don’t have a vote. I hope so. If you re asking if we’re one of the best 64 in the country, yes. I hope the whole selection doesn’t come down to one game.”

Which basically came down to two plays.

“The story is they turned a double play on us and we couldn’t turn one on them,” Mainieri said. “We just couldn’t muster a comeback.”

Ninth-seeded LSU (34-22) dug an early hole — basically on the two key plays.

The Tigers opened the game by loading the bases with no outs, but got one run out of it, which scored Tré Morgan on a double-play ground ball.

No. 8 Georgia (31-23), which advanced to play top-seeded Arkansas (42-10)at 4:30 p.m. today, answered with four runs in the bottom of the first — only after LSU second baseman Collier Cranford threw wildly on a routine double-play relay throw that would have gotten the Tigers out of the inning unscathed.

Instead, after one run scored on the miscue, Chaney Rogers followed with a three-run double for the 4-1 lead that held up.

“If we complete the double play …” Mainieri said without answering. “Who would have predicted there would be no scoring for the last eight innings? But the result of the game is the accumulation of all nine innings. You can’t blame one play or one inning.”

But neither team scored again, with LSU starter Landon Marceaux (6-5) holding Georgia scoreless while pitching the remainder of the game and finishing with nine strikeouts.

“Definitely I think the ball game would have been much different if we would have turned that double play,” LSU right fielder Dylan Crews said.

“I give credit to Georgia, especially their pitching,” Mainieri said. “They ran three pretty good left-handers at us.”

“We’ve got to do do better with runners in scoring position,” Crews said.

The Tigers had their chances but were 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position and 0-for-2 with runners on third with fewer than two outs.

“We couldn’t capitalize on those,” Mainieri said after the Tigers struck out 12 times. “I think a lot of that had to do with the quality of their pitching.”

They got the first two runners on in the fourth with doing any damage and loaded the bases with one out in the eighth, but strikeouts by Zach Arnold and Drew Bianco killed the rally.

“I felt bad for Landon,” Mainieri said. “Unfortunately that’s happened too much for us this year. Hs record is kind of pedestrian because we haven’t given him much run support.”

But was it his last outing of the year?

“I don’t know,” Marceaux said. “It’s not for me to decide. Hopefully we get the bid. We’ve done everything we can. It’s not in our hands.”

“You want to come in here and make a statement,” Cruz said. “We just couldn’t string anything together with runners in scoring position.

“We’ve just got to sit and wait right now. Whatever happens happens.”

””

Georgia made a four-run first inning stand up in eliminating LSU from the Southeastern Conference Tournament. Now the Tigers must wait to see if the NCAA invites them.

Vasha Hunt / Special to the American Press

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