[Photo – LSUsports.net]
LSU Baseball opens the SEC Tournament on Tuesday night as the No. 5 seed and will face the No. 12 seeded South Carolina Gamecocks at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium in Hoover, Alabama. LSU took the final series of the regular season against Auburn this past weekend, winning 7-1 and 5-1, respectively.
It would be an understatement to say this season has been a roller coaster for the Tigers. LSU has struggled to find its way at times, which has been a cause for concern. Many restless fans have even begun to question the extent of Paul Mainieri’s tenure as the Tigers’ head coach. Luckily, a good outing this week in Hoover will do the Tigers a favor in terms of potentially hosting a regional in the NCAA Tournament.
For LSU, it all comes down to pitching. It goes without question this has been the achilles heel of the team this season. Zach Hess entered 2019 as one of LSU’s go-to Friday night starters. He and the rest of the Tigers’ pitchers have struggled this season as others have dealt with injury. All around, this team has left many questions unanswered for themselves and fans of the team. If the Tigers can get their pitching in a solid state, they have a great chance to make some noise this week. At 34-22 (17-13 SEC), LSU has a lot of ground to make up before the NCAA Tournament begins. What better place to fix their mistakes than the SEC Tournament?
If there’s any team in the SEC that’s suffered as many pitching woes as LSU, it’s been South Carolina. The Gamecocks finished 8-22 overall in SEC play. Unlikely to make the NCAA Tournament at 28-27 overall, South Carolina has to win the conference tournament to get in. The Gamecocks can hit when they get in a zone, but that isn’t very often. A main key for Carolina is to be able to find ways to hit off of LSU’s pitchers and keep the momentum in their favor.
This early round matchup will be a test for both teams. In LSU’s case, winning this game gives them somewhat of a better chance at hosting a regional. A win would also give the Tigers more chances to prove themselves in the conference. For South Carolina, a win would be a monumental part of their season as it would keep them alive for at least one more game. But remember, the Gamecocks have to win the SEC Tournament to make the NCAA Tournament as an automatic bid.