In LSU's 9-8 win over Oregon in the regional championship, Dylan Crews and Tre Morgan went a combined 1-for-9. When the two top hitters on the team and two of the best in all of college baseball have a game like that, it's very hard to see a path to winning.
This isn't to knock Crews and Morgan in the slightest. The two have played lightyears above expectations and were even named Freshman All Americans by Collegiate Baseball magazine this week.
But baseball is a nine man game as coach Paul Mainieri said on Wednesday, and the Tigers received clutch hits up and down the order to help the team advance to the super regionals this weekend at Tennessee. Whether it was Gavin Dugas' three home runs and 5-for-7 outing over the final two wins against Oregon, Drew Bianco's two run homer in the seixth, Jordan Thompson's RBI single or even Cade Beloso simply putting the ball in play in the eighth to bring the tying run home.
Everyone played a hand in the Tigers pulling off the impossible, winning those final four games in three days and extending the season.
"If you're gonna win in tough environments, it can't be a two man team," Mainieri said. "You need contributions from a lot of guys. The history of sports, somebody who is the unheralded guy, the guys that haven't been the headline, always seem to step up and have their moments. It's what makes sports so intriguing to a lot of people and do something extraordinary."
Dugas and Bianco were the heroes of that final game against the Ducks and both have had up and down careers with the Tigers. Dugas' career was defined by injury and inconsistency until this season, blasting a team high 19 home runs and being without a doubt the Tigers most clutch hitter.
Bianco has faced adversity being in and out of the lineup on a day-to-day basis the last three years. But with injuries and inconsistent play taking a toll on the team at second base and centerfield, he's carved out a consistent role and come through when the team has needed him most.
It could be a testament to being a coaches son, but there's a toughness and "lay it all on the line" attitude within Bianco that makes him such a dangerous player and why he's been the swiss army knife for this club all season.
"I don't really care what position I play," Bianco said. "It wasn't the easiest trip through three years but I'm glad that I am where I am."
Dugas said that it's a tremendous confidence boost for this team when everyone is playing a hand in the team's success. Facing a difficult Tennessee pitching staff this weekend, it's important for the confidence to be high and for not only Crews and Morgan to continue their stellar play, but for those "unheralded" players to do something extraordinary as well.
"It's really good for us, a good stand point to run with because at the end of the day, when a bunch of guys can step up that's always a plus," Dugas said. "It's a great opportunity for us to build off of."
Photo courtesy of LSUsports.