One fan drove in from Natchitoches while the family of an LSU player flew in from Washington State to watch the Tigers final home game of the season. The Tigers had been perfect in midweek games and were looking at becoming just the third team in program to go undefeated in midweek games.
Not to mention a win Tuesday night over Northwestern State would propel coach Paul Mainieri to 1,500 wins for his career, becoming just the fifth coach in Division I College Baseball history to complete that feat with a national championship win under his belt. All of that included the team's postseason hopes, which laid in the balance for the final home game of the season.
What transpired next can only be described as the worst performance of the season as LSU came out unfocused and thoroughly outplayed in a 7-3 loss to the Demons.
"I didn't really expect that to happen. I think the way the weather was, they didn't truly believe we were gonna play today. You could really tell our guys were not focused," Mainieri said. "It's my job to get the team ready. It's nobody’s fault but my own. We got beat by a team that was more focused and ready to play than we were.""
The early innings set the tone for this surprising performance out of LSU. On offense, the Tigers could only muster up two hits in the first four innings but did draw four walks, all of which were rendered useless as LSU would leave five on base during that stretch.
If the offense wasn't bad enough, the pitching fared even worse. Starter Will Hellmers was blasted for a solo home run in the second, kicking off what was to be hit parade for Northwestern State over the next two innings. The Demons collected six hits but it was the three walks and hit batter that ultimately led to a 4-0 deficit after four innings.
"With all of the rain last night and possible flooding today, I don't know if we were completely ready to win that game," Hellmers said. "Bats didn't get rolling until late and we weren't ready to play."
From there, a pair of errors, including one from the usually sure handed Tre' Morgan, a walk and a wild pitch tacked on two runs to the Northwestern State lead. It was a night where nothing went right for the purple and gold but they only had themselves to blame.
The offense started to put something together in the seventh inning as LSU scored three runs to cut the Demons lead in half 6-3, headlined by an RBI triple from Dylan Crews that scored two runs.
The focus and execution just weren't there from the start and what Mainieri called a potential "trap game" on Monday afternoon came exactly true. Not even a squirrel running behind home plate in the fourth inning could do anything to rally the team.
Instead those postseason hopes and aspirations look a lot murkier than they did four hours ago. One of the benefits LSU had going for it was its high RPI but a loss like this will almost certainly drop the Tigers down a few notches.
LSU will now prepare for a three game road series against Texas A&M to close the season.
"A loss like this definitely hurts the pride but knowing this team I think it's going to light a fire under us," Hellmers said. "Give us this little spark at the end of the season and go a long way."
Photo courtesy of LSUsports.