LSU baseball’s surprising run through the SEC Tournament came up just short.
After fighting past some of the top-ranked teams in the country to make the tournament championship game as a No. 8 seed, LSU fell to Ole Miss 9-1 on Sunday, finishing as the SEC Tournament runners-up. This marks the first time in seven tries that LSU baseball coach Paul Mainieri lost the final game of the SEC Tournament, keeping him tied with legendary LSU coach Skip Bertman for most career SEC titles.
Offensively, LSU couldn’t manage to get hits when the stakes were highest. The Tigers batted 1 for 12 with runners in scoring position on Sunday, with that 1 hit coming in the first inning. In all, LSU stranded 8 base runners and batted .125 as a team.
The most significant missed opportunity came in the sixth inning. First baseman Austin Bain led off the inning with a walk and advanced to third on a fielding error, giving the Tigers runners on first and third with no outs. After a pop-out and a walk, LSU had the bases loaded with one out, facing Ole Miss ace and projected first-round draft pick Ryan Rolison, who had entered in relief after the Bain walk. With the bases loaded, Rolison struck out third baseman Jake Slaughter and shortstop Hal Hughes, both swinging, to end the threat and preserve Ole Miss’ 2-run lead.
One inning later, Ole Miss tagged LSU relievers Devin Fontenot and Trent Vietmeier for 4 runs on 3 hits to expand the Rebels’ lead to 7-1.
Junior Caleb Gilbert started the game for LSU, allowing 3 runs on 9 hits in 3 innings. Cam Sanders entered in relief of Gilbert in the fourth, tossing 3 shutout innings with 1 hit and 4 strikeouts, retiring 9 of the 10 batters he faced. In three appearances in the SEC Tournament, Sanders threw 8⅓ shutout innings with 12 strikeouts, no walks and 3 hits allowed.
Freshman Daniel Cabrera drove in LSU’s only run, scoring junior right fielder Antoine Duplantis with a double in the first inning. With the double and RBI, Cabrera tied LSU legend Alex Bregman for the most RBIs (52) and doubles (18) by an LSU freshman in the Paul Mainieri era.
What’s next for LSU baseball?
Barring a massive surprise, LSU will advance to the NCAA Tournament. The 16 cities that will host regionals will be announced at 7:30 p.m. CT on Sunday night, and the field of 64 will be announced at 11 a.m. CT on Monday on ESPNU. LSU is expected to be a No. 2 or No. 3 seed in a regional, breaking the Tigers’ six-year streak of qualifying as a national seed.