Thursday, August 9, 2012

SxSE: LSU Baseball 1893-2012

LSU Baseball is currently a Super Regional program.  They have the history and reputation to be expected to at least make it to a Super Regional each year.  Paul Mainieri's challenge, after a short tenure that has swung from twice failing to reach the NCAA Regionals all the way up to winning the national championship, is to make sure the program stays at that level or moves up to a perennial CWS program,  rather than falling back.  The Tigers' average season record over the past 10 years has been 42-21.

LSU began playing baseball in 1893.  They had 15 different coaches in the first 30 years.

Harry Rabenhorst was the head coach from 1925 through 1956.  Rabenhorst was also the basketball coach during that time.  He accumulated a baseball record of 220-226-3.  

Skip Bertman was the head coach from 1983-2001, and turned LSU from a good-to-average program into a national powerhouse.  The Tigers made 11 appearances in the College World Series during Bertman's 18 years as coach. His teams won the national championship 5 times,in 1991, 1993, 1996, 1997 and 2000.

In a Baseball America poll published in 1999, Bertman was voted the second greatest college baseball coach of the 20th century, trailing Rod Dedeaux of Southern California.

Smoke Laval was the head coach from 2002-2006.  While Laval posted a 210-109-1 record at LSU, and took the team to the College World Series twice, he could never live up to the expectations set by Skip Bertman's career at LSU.

Paul Mainieri has been the head coach since 2006.  In 5 years he has taken the Tigers to the College World Series twice, and won the national championship in 2009.

All in all, LSU has won 15 SEC Championships, has made 25 NCAA Regional appearances, has made 15 College World Series appearances (1986, 1987, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2004, 2008, 2009), and has won 6 national championships (1991, 1993, 1996, 1997, 2000, and 2009)

LSU Baseball Historical Video (

    Notable LSU ballplayers
    The 2012 LSU Tigers

    The 2012 Tigers finished with a 47-18 record, 19-11 in the SEC, won the NCAA Regional they hosted and went on to host a Super Regional, in which they were beaten by Cinderella team Stony Brook

    LSU's baseball team is knocked cold vs. Stony Brook (
    LSU beefed up its pitching, but the everyday lineup still showed a lack of hitting talent from poor recruiting. The Tigers top two hitters -- Katz and Raph Rhymes -- will return, but the lineup lacks power and athleticism. Partly because of injuries, Mainieri tinkered with it all season and still was doing so in the super regional.
    The Tigers spent the season scratching for runs with bunts and hit-and-run plays and got by with strong pitching and defense. Mainieri admitted that "in a lot of ways we overachieved."

    Aside from losing Gausman and probably Goody, the biggest hole to fill will be defensively. Austin Nola performed as perhaps LSU's best fielding shortstop since former coach Skip Bertman arrived in town. Second baseman JaCoby Jones might move over to that spot or incoming freshman Alex Bregman could wind up there.

    Also gone is senior third baseman Tyler Hanover and designated hitter Grant Dozar, but the rest of the players return. The Tigers could get a boost if center fielder Chris Sciambra recovers from a neck injury suffered during the second Southeastern Conference weekend.

    The Tigers must also find a No. 1 starter. At the beginning of the season, Mainieri foresaw Ryan Eades sliding into that role, but he was struggling by the end of the season and was knocked out in the third inning Sunday night after allowing four runs.
    Nola's brother, Aaron, who walked seven in 89 2/3 innings, might have surpassed Eades for the Friday starter slot.

    "He's got room for improvement, obviously," Mainieri said. "He's got to get better with his off-speed pitches. He doesn't have anything he can go to behind in the count with great command and change of pace."

    Even with the sour finish, it beat back-to-back seasons where the Tigers didn't host and then didn't make the NCAA Tournament. LSU won 47 games and an SEC title, which earned it a top eight national seed.

    Rhymes had 100 hits and set a school record with a .431 batting average. Gausman went 12-2 with a 2.77 ERA.

    The Tigers simply couldn't finish.

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