The Story of Resiliency and Why the 2021 LSU Baseball Team Proved It Can Never be Counted Out

Tigers stroll into Knoxville with plenty of reasons to believe team can compete with Tennessee
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Landon Marceaux was at a loss for words in the immediate aftermath of LSU's 9-8 win over Oregon. 

He could hardly contain his excitement as LSU took the lead in the eighth on a balk, but knew composure was the key to finishing off the ninth inning on the mound. Marceaux was able to gather himself and while he would go on to say he likely gave a "gazillion" people a heart attack, it was enough to experience that winning feeling with his team. 

Marceaux hugged, high fived and laughed with his teammates and coaches knowing that their season would move forward for at least another weekend. LSU won its first road regional since 1989 and became just the sixth team since 2014 to win a regional after losing the first game of the weekend. 

The Tigers know that many had counted them out but Marceaux just came back to one word when asked about his team's accomplishment, resiliency.

"The resiliency. I don't know what else to say why. This team wants to win and we've had some really tough breaks all throughout the season," Marceaux said. "A ball not bouncing our way, a pitch not being made or one at bat away from the big hit. We've come so close all year and just keep fighting back. This team is tough."

From the halfway point of the season, LSU has been scratching and clawing its way back into the postseason conversation. It hasn't always been easy as growing pains are a part of the process, but it's also hardened this team to be ready for anything that's thrown its way.

Outfielder Gavin Dugas has been the most consistent option at the plate all season, coming through in clutch moments when needed. He started off the weekend slow but finished as strong as humanly possible. Over the last two wins over Oregon, he blasted three home runs with four RBI, scored five runs and went 5-of-7 at the plate. Dugas said the kind of clutch play late in games has only furthered the team's confidence heading into the super regional against Tennessee.

"I think it's pretty high up there to be honest," Dugas said of the regional win's meaning to the team. "About halfway through the SEC we got to a point where our backs were pretty much against the wall and we needed to start doing things to put us in better position. That's something that prepared us for the situation today. We were running through the whole year preparing one game at a time.

"That's why I'm so confident in this team being able to handle pressure because we've been used to it all season, it's nothing we can't handle."

Coach Paul Mainieri, much like his players, know that many counted the Tigers out at various points during the season. Many times, LSU didn't live up to the standards that Mainieri or the history of this program have come to expect over the years. 

But there's something about this team that has followed a similar formula to those past postseason teams that made a deep run. It's impossible to ever count the 2021 Tigers out and now the program sets its sights fot Knoxville for a chance to get to Omaha one last time under Mainieri's leadership.

"A lot of people I'm sure have counted us out," Mainieri said. "That's what happens, baseball's not an easy game to play. It can be very humbling. Our kids have shown great resiliency and battling as hard as they can. We're just going to keep battling, I'm glad we get to keep playing and we're gonna go to Tennessee next weekend and give it everything we've got and hopefully be victorious.

"Guys are right there behind you ready to pick you up and I think that's what's going to get us going in the future and that's why we're so excited to go to Knoxville and get ready to play," Dugas said. 

Photo courtesy of LSUsports.