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Pregame: LSU vs. Florida, SEC Tournament Semifinals

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Caleb Gilbert (41) pitches against Tulane on Tuesday, March 29

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK — Caleb Gilbert (41) pitches against Tulane on Tuesday, March 29

HOOVER, Alabama — The pregame blog will post a few hours before first pitch of each ballgame. Lineups will be added at the bottom when they’re made available. Check back for any additional updates.

  • When: 3:30 p.m. Saturday
  • Where: Hoover Metropolitan Stadium
  • Rankings: No. 5 seed LSU is ranked as high as No. 8 and as low as No. 10. No. 4 seed Florida is ranked as high as No. 1 and as low as No. 3
  • Projected Starters: LSU Fr. RHP Caleb Gilbert (4-3, 5.11 ERA) vs. Florida So. LHP Scott Moss (2-0, 2.20 ERA)
  • TV: SEC Network
  • Streaming:  Available online at ESPN3.com
  • Radio: LSU Sports Radio Network affiliates; 98.1 FM in Baton Rouge
  • Pre- and postgame coverage: blogs.theadvocate.com/linedrives;theadvocate.com/sports
  • In-game Updates: @Chandler_Rome@RabalaisAdv

Pregame Reading

What to Watch

Hometown Hurler: Caleb Gilbert assured reporters Friday that pitching in his hometown, 1.4 miles from his high school, wouldn’t overwhelm him. He displays inordinate poise for a 19-year-old and his teammates hail him as the most intelligent person on the team, but even Paul Mainieri said he’d be a bit nervous once he took the mound.

“If he’s not,” Mainieri joked, “he’s probably not breathing.”

Gilbert faced this Florida lineup last week and, after a rough first inning that was marked by a one-out walk, he mowed through the Gators in 4.1 innings. Getting ahead in the count to set up the wipeout slider will be key for the former closer. And, of course, managing his emotions.

Who’s on Third? Chris Reid fell ill during the eighth inning of Thursday’s 6-2 win against Mississippi State. Mainieri pulled him for Trey Dawson and Reid didn’t join the team during its off-day activities yesterday. Mainieri said he hoped Reid’s illness was just a “24-hour thing” and he’d be ready to play today. Reid’s been one of LSU’s most patient hitters in the middle of its order, taking at-bats deep into the count and running pitch counts up. He possesses an uncanny ability to spoil bad pitches and his pitch selection is among the best on a team that, as it is, does not strike out. Missing him could give the Tigers a big hole to fill in their lineup.

Reid was a full participant in LSU’s batting practice at Hoover High School before the game and was in the Tigers’ starting lineup, which is listed below.

LINEUPS

LSU

  1. Antoine Duplantis (RF)
  2. Jake Fraley (CF)
  3. Kramer Robertson (SS)
  4. Bryce Jordan (DH)
  5. Chris Reid (3B)
  6. Beau Jordan (LF)
  7. Greg Deichmann (1B)
  8. Mike Papierski (C)
  9. Cole Freeman (2B)

Caleb Gilbert (RHP)

 

LSU will retire former slugger Todd Walker’s jersey in 2017

LSU coach Skip Bertman walking off the field with College World Series MVP Todd Walker (12) (ADVOCATE FILE PHOTO by Travis Spradling)

LSU coach Skip Bertman walking off the field with College World Series MVP Todd Walker (12) (ADVOCATE FILE PHOTO by Travis Spradling)

Todd Walker, who finished his three-year LSU career with a .396 batting average and played 11 Major League seasons, will become the fourth person LSU baseball history to have his jersey retired.

The school announced Friday that the Hall of Fame Committee voted unanimously to retire Walker’s No. 12 jersey prior to a 2017 game in Alex Box Stadium. The exact date is not yet known.

Walker, a Bossier City native, left Baton Rouge as the SEC’s all-time leader in hits (310), runs (234), RBI (246) and total bases (557). The 1993 SEC Player of the Year was a two-time finalist for the Golden Spikes Award, given annually to the best amateur baseball player in the country, and was drafted eighth overall in the 1994 MLB Draft.

“Todd Walker epitomizes the values that we promote at LSU,” LSU athletic director Joe Alleva said in a statement. “He is in the College Baseball Hall of Fame, and his exploits as one of the greatest hitters in the history of the game are well-documented. What is even more impressive is his commitment to education, as he completed his LSU degree requirements while he was an active Major League player. He generously donates his time and energy to charitable causes, and he is a tremendous ambassador for our university. We look forward to having his jersey number take its place among those of LSU legends.”

Walker, who will join his coach Skip Bertman, Ben McDonald and Eddy Furniss among the retired jerseys at Alex Box Stadium, was a part of the 1993 national championship team, where he was named the College World Series’ Most Outstanding Player. He was named to the CWS Legends Team in 2010

Recently named a baseball analyst on the SEC Network, Walker played for seven teams during his Major League career. He was inducted into the LSU Athletics Hall of Fame in 2006, and the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame in 2011.

Including Walker, eleven LSU athletes or coach to have their jerseys retired — Furniss, Bertman and McDonald, Bob Pettit, Pete Maravich, Rudy Macklin, Shaquille O’Neal, Billy Cannon, Tommy Casanova and Seimone Augustus.

Pregame Blog: LSU vs. Mississippi State, SEC Tournament

Kramer Robertson celebrates scoring what was then the go-ahead run in last night's 5-3 win against Florida

Kramer Robertson celebrates scoring what was then the go-ahead run in last night’s 5-3 win against Florida

HOOVER, Alabama — The pregame blog will post a few hours before first pitch of each ballgame. Lineups will be added at the bottom when they’re made available. Check back for any additional updates.

  • When: 8 p.m. Thursday
  • Where: Hoover Metropolitan Stadium
  • Rankings: No. 5 seed LSU is ranked as high as No. 8 and as low as No. 10. No. 1 seed Mississippi State is ranked as high as No. 1 and as low as No. 3
  • Projected Starters: LSU Jr. LHP Jared Poche (6-4, 3.81 ERA) vs. Mississippi State Jr. RHP Dakota Hudson (9-3, 2.29 ERA)
  • TV: SEC Network
  • Streaming:  Available online at ESPN3.com
  • Radio: LSU Sports Radio Network affiliates; 98.1 FM in Baton Rouge
  • Pre- and postgame coverage: blogs.theadvocate.com/linedrives;theadvocate.com/sports
  • In-game Updates: @Chandler_Rome@RabalaisAdv

About Last Night

What to Watch

Dakota’s Dealing: Hudson’s thrown a complete game shutout in each of his last two appearances, albeit against SEC cellar-dwellers Auburn and Arkansas. LSU hit Hudson well a month ago in a 12-8 loss in Baton Rouge, tagging the righty with a Craig Kimbrel-esque stance for 12 hits and seven earned runs — both season highs. It’s becoming trite to detail the Tigers’ success against top-flight talent, so just know the young, scrappy team won’t be daunted by another first-round arm.

Starting Early: In its two wins in Hoover, LSU hasn’t scored a run in the first six innings, instead opting to stage late-game heroics to pull itself back into ballgames. The Tigers are finding themselves adept at winning one-run games — they’ve won seven in their last 14 — but getting out to an early cushion would aid starter Jared Poche, who hasn’t been his typical self lately.

LINEUPS

LSU

  1. Antoine Duplantis (RF)
  2. Jake Fraley (CF)
  3. Kramer Robertson (SS)
  4. Chris Reid (3B)
  5. Bryce Jordan (DH)
  6. Beau Jordan (LF)
  7. Greg Deichmann (1B)
  8. Mike Papierski (C)
  9. Cole Freeman (2B)

Jared Poche (LHP)

MISSISSIPPI STATE

  1. Jake Mangum (RF)
  2. Jack Kruger (C)
  3. Gavin Collins (3B)
  4. Brent Rooker (DH)
  5. Nathaniel Lowe (1B)
  6. Reid Humphreys (LF)
  7. Jacob Robson (CF)
  8. Ryan Gridley (SS)
  9. Hunter Stovall (2B)

Dakota Hudson (RHP)

 

 

Pregame Blog: LSU vs. Florida, SEC Tournament

Off a thrilling, walk-off win, LSU gets Florida tonight at the Hoover Met

Off a thrilling, walk-off win, LSU gets Florida tonight at the Hoover Met

HOOVER, Alabama — The pregame blog will post a few hours before first pitch of each ballgame. Lineups will be added at the bottom when they’re made available. Check back for any additional updates.

  • When: 8 p.m. Wednesday
  • Where: Hoover Metropolitan Stadium
  • Rankings: No. 5 seed LSU is ranked as high as No. 8 and as low as No. 10. No. 4 seed Florida is ranked as high as No. 1 and as low as No. 4
  • Projected Starters: LSU So. RHP Alex Lange (7-3, 3.63 ERA) vs. Florida Jr. LHP A.J. Puk (2-3, 2.93 ERA)
  • TV: SEC Network
  • Streaming:  Available online at ESPN3.com
  • Radio: LSU Sports Radio Network affiliates; 98.1 FM in Baton Rouge
  • Pre- and postgame coverage: blogs.theadvocate.com/linedrives;theadvocate.com/sports
  • In-game Updates: @Chandler_Rome@RabalaisAdv

About Last Night

What to Watch

Lange-Puk: This is a matchup of two men who will get paid lots of money to throw a baseball very soon. Lange had perhaps his best stuff of the season against the Gators last week before the rain came and Puk threw very well against LSU before his stomach illness became too much to ignore. Both pitchers work very fast and disrupting the rhythm could be key for both teams in what should be a low-scoring affair. Puk runs his velocity up into the mid-90s — a type of pitcher the Tigers have usually thrived on this season. Making him throw offspeed pitches for strikes and jumping on mistakes will be the Tigers’ best chance at cracking the probable No. 1 overall MLB Draft pick.

Behind the Dish: Tennessee stole six bases against LSU last night. Not all can be blamed on catcher Jordan Romero, but he and the Tigers’ pitching staff must do a better job of controlling the running game, especially tonight when runs will be at a premium. Romero’s also mired in a nasty slump at the plate. He was pinch hit for late in last night’s game and Mike Papierski caught the final two innings. A change could come at catcher tonight, especially with Lange and his privy to pound breaking balls in the dirt.

LINEUPS

LSU

  1. Antoine Duplantis (RF)
  2. Jake Fraley (CF)
  3. Kramer Robertson (SS)
  4. Bryce Jordan (DH)
  5. Chris Reid (3B)
  6. Beau Jordan (LF)
  7. Greg Deichmann (1B)
  8. Mike Papierski (C)
  9. Cole Freeman (2B)

Alex Lange (RHP)

FLORIDA

  1. Dalton Guthrie (SS)
  2. Jonathan India (3B)
  3. JJ Schwarz (DH)
  4. Buddy Reed (CF)
  5. Mike Rivera (C)
  6. Nelson Maldonado (LF)
  7. Deacon Liput (2B)
  8. Jeremy Vasquez (1B)
  9. Ryan Larson (RF)

A.J. Puk (LHP)

Pregame: LSU vs. Tennessee, SEC Tournament Opening Round

LSU and Tennessee will end the first day of play at the Hoover Met at 8 p.m.

LSU and Tennessee will end the first day of play at the Hoover Met at 8 p.m.

HOOVER, Alabama — The pregame blog will post a few hours before first pitch of each ballgame. Lineups will be added at the bottom when they’re made available. Check back for any additional updates.

  • When: 8 p.m. Tuesday
  • Where: Hoover Metropolitan Stadium
  • Rankings: LSU is ranked as high as No. 8 and as low as No. 10. Tennessee is unranked.
  • Projected Starters: LSU Fr. LHP Jake Latz (0-1, 5.40 ERA) vs. Fr. RHP Will Neely (1-3, 4.27 ERA)
  • TV: SEC Network
  • Streaming:  Available online at ESPN3.com
  • Radio: LSU Sports Radio Network affiliates; 98.1 FM in Baton Rouge
  • Pre- and postgame coverage: blogs.theadvocate.com/linedrives;theadvocate.com/sports
  • In-game Updates: @Chandler_Rome@RabalaisAdv

Pregame Reading

What to Watch

It’s Jake from Lemont: After two years of unfulfilled expectations, Latz gets the biggest start of his still-fledgling college career in this postseason, single-elimination game. Latz looked more at ease and aggressive with his delivery in his one inning against Florida, snapping off some nasty breaking balls to record strikeouts against three of the five hitters he faced. The redshirt freshman likely won’t go more than one time through the order, but if he can throw up scoreless innings early, LSU’s offense has a chance to pounce against a reeling Tennessee pitching staff.

But When He’s Gone…  Latz has yet to throw more than 36 pitches in a collegiate outing. Paul Mainieri said Monday he’ll watch how the game plays out and monitor Latz’s demeanor to determine how long he leaves him in, but to expect anything more than 40 or so pitches would be false. Mainieri made clear Monday that Alex Lange, Jared Poche, Riley Smith and Caleb Gilbert would be unavailable, so expect long relievers like Doug Norman and  Austin Bain to get LSU through the middle innings.

Can Beau and Jordan Get Hot? Once LSU’s most consistent power hitters, Beau Jordan and Jordan Romero are mired in nasty slumps of late. Jordan’s 2 for his last 23 while Romero is 0 for his last 15. Tennessee will throw a “Johnny Allstaff” approach at LSU, beginning with Will Neely, who relies on a low changeup to get weak contact and ground ball outs. A spark from either of these slumping sluggers would aid LSU’s cause.

LINEUPS

LSU

  1. Antoine Duplantis (RF)
  2. Jake Fraley (CF)
  3. Kramer Robertson (SS)
  4. Chris Reid (3B)
  5. Bryce Jordan (DH)
  6. Jordan Romero (C)
  7. Greg Deichmann (1B)
  8. Beau Jordan (LF)
  9. Cole Freeman (2B)

Jake Latz (LHP)

TENNESSEE

  1. Brodie Leftridge (CF)
  2. Chris Hill (RF)
  3. Nick Senzel (3B)
  4. Vincent Jackson (LF)
  5. Jordan Rodgers (1B)
  6. Benito Santiago (DH)
  7. Tyler Schultz (C)
  8. Max Bartlett (SS)
  9. Derek Lance (2B)

Will Neely (RHP)

 

ESPN Films documentary chronicling Warren Morris’ 1996 home run set to premiere June 30

Warren Morris and his 1996 team will be honored tonight

Warren Morris and his 1996 team will be honored tonight

The greatest moment in LSU baseball history will soon get the silver screen treatment.

“The Walk Off,” the next installment of ESPN Films’ SEC Storied, will premiere June 30 at 9 p.m. ET on the SEC Network, the network announced Tuesday.

The film chronicles Warren Morris’ two-run home run in the bottom of the ninth inning that sealed LSU’s dramatic 9-8 victory in the 1996 College World Series.

It was Morris’ first home run of the season and came after he battled a nagging hand injury throughout the year.

Morris recently met Miami pitcher Robbie Morrison, who came to Baton Rouge for the first time since he surrendered the home run in Omaha.

 

Kramer Robertson, Bryce Jordan named First Team All-SEC

Kramer Robertson and the LSU offense look to lend run support today (Photo provided by Sam Craft/The Eagle)

Kramer Robertson was named First Team All-SEC Monday(Photo provided by Sam Craft/The Eagle)

Kramer Robertson, who began the season at second base before switching to shortstop, was named First Team All-SEC at the position on Monday, joining Bryce Jordan as the only two LSU players honored on the first team.

Cole Freeman, who slid to second when Robertson moved to shortstop, was named to the All-Defensive Team. Right fielder Antoine Duplantis made the All-Freshman team.

Robertson hit .321 while starting all 56 of LSU’s games and fielding at a .961 clip.

Jordan, who flip-flopped between first base and designated hitter early in the season, tied with  Mississippi State designated hitter Jack Kruger for a spot on the first team. Jordan slugged .449 while hitting .316.

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- LSU right fielder Antoine Duplantis and his fellow outfielders will have opportunities for assists and outs on the basepaths.

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK — LSU right fielder Antoine Duplantis  was named to the All Freshman team on Monday.

After beginning the season at third base, Freeman switched to his more natural position at second, committing just seven errors all season.

Duplantis leads the team with 76 hits and a .335 batting average.

Texas A&M’s Boomer White was named SEC Player of the Year, Florida’s Logan Shore was Pitcher of the Year, Mississippi State’s Jake Mangum was Freshman of the Year and his coach, John Cohen, got Coach of the Year honors.

Poll Speak Monday

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Cole Freeman celebrates his game winning run in the bottom of the eighth inning against Florida on Friday

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK — Cole Freeman celebrates his game winning run in the bottom of the eighth inning against Florida on Friday

Each Monday, you can track LSU’s movement in college baseball’s major polls here. Check back for frequent updates as polls are released throughout the day.

LSU closed out its regular season with the best series win of the year — taking two of three from No. 1 Florida to end its campaign 39-17 and 19-11 in the SEC.

Polls (Last week’s ranking in parenthesis)

Baseball America 7 (8)

Perfect Game 8 (9)

D1Baseball.com 8 (10)

Collegiate Baseball 9 (11)

RPI

WarrenNolan.com 9

NCAA 9

The Week that Was

On Deck at the SEC Tournament

  • LSU vs. Tennessee, 8 p.m., Tuesday (SEC Network)

 

LSU Athletic Hall of Fame Committee approves statue of former baseball coach Skip Bertman

Skip Bertman and Paul Mainieri at the CWS. (HILARY SCHEINUK)

Skip Bertman will soon have a statue on LSU’s campus (HILARY SCHEINUK)

The LSU Athletic Hall of Fame Committee unanimously approved a proposal to erect a statue of five-time national championship coach Skip Bertman on campus, the school announced Saturday morning.

Details of location and design will be announced in the coming months.

A six-time National Coach of the Year and member of the LSU Athletic Hall of Fame, the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame, the University of Miami Sports Hall of Fame, the American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame and the College Baseball Hall of Fame, Bertman was LSU’s baseball coach for 18 seasons.

He made 11 College World Series appearances, won five national championships and sent 31 players into Major League Baseball. Upon his retirement in 2001, Bertman served as LSU’s athletic director until 2008.

“I can think of no LSU athletic figure more deserving of a statue than Skip Bertman,” said LSU athletic director Joe Alleva in a news release. “He is arguably the greatest coach in college baseball history with an amazing portfolio of championships and honors. However, what distinguishes Skip the most from other coaches is the impact he made upon the sport on a nationwide level. He had a clear vision of how to make college baseball both popular and profitable, and today the game enjoys unprecedented recognition.”

One of just ten LSU athletes or coaches with his jersey retired, Bertman now joins just former basketball stars Shaquille O’Neal and Bob Pettit with statues on campus.

Pregame: Florida at LSU, Game Two

A.J. Puk starts tonight against LSU. Florida has lost his last four starts. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

A.J. Puk starts tonight against LSU. Florida has lost his last four starts. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

The pregame blog will post a few hours before first pitch of each ballgame. Lineups will be added at the bottom when they’re made available. Check back for any additional updates.

  • When: 6 p.m. Friday
  • Where: Alex Box Stadium
  • Rankings: LSU is ranked as high as No. 8 and as low as No. 13. Florida is the consensus No. 1 team in the country.
  • Projected Starters: LSU Jr. LHP Jared Poche (6-4, 4.00 ERA) vs. Florida Jr. LHP A. J. Puk (2-3, 2.88 ERA)
  • TV: SEC Network
  • Streaming:  Available online at ESPN3.com
  • Radio: LSU Sports Radio Network affiliates; 98.1 FM in Baton Rouge
  • Pre- and postgame coverage: blogs.theadvocate.com/linedrives;theadvocate.com/sports
  • In-game Updates: @Chandler_Rome

Pregame Reading

Revised Series Schedule

  • Game One resumption — 11 a.m. Saturday
  • Game Three — 3:30 p.m. Saturday
  • Note: SEC rules mandate a “hard stop” one hour before televised games. Thus, the resumption of game one must end by 2:30 p.m. If the game is not completed by then, it will stop, game three will be played, and game one will resume again after game three

What to Watch in Game Two

Supporting A.J. A.J. Puk is projected as the No. 1 overall draft pick in MLB.com’s latest projections released Friday, but his last four starts are all Florida losses. And they haven’t been all his fault. In those four starts, where he’s struck out 37 and allowed five earned runs, he’s been given four runs of support. He’s pitched six or more innings in three of the four starts but does have 12 walks in that span.

Puk’s a lanky, 6-foot-7 left-hander that can go into the mid to high-90s with his fastball. LSU’s hit fastball pitchers well all season, but its lefty-heavy top of the lineup will have its work cut out. Puk has some control issues — 27 walks in 56.1 innings — but his 13.10 strikeouts per nine innings ranks No. 1 in the SEC. And, as has been documented, LSU does not strike out often (just 242 times). Something has to bend.

Early-Inning Poche: Florida has outscored its opponents 50-20 in the first inning this season. Both Poche and Alex Lange had their fair share of early-inning struggles. Lange remedied his in his brief game one stint and Poche will need to mimic that tonight. A.J. Puk has the capability to mow hitters down and, if he’s staked to an early lead, he could get into a quick groove.

LSU

  1. Antoine Duplantis (RF)
  2. Jake Fraley (CF)
  3. Kramer Robertson (SS)
  4. Jordan Romero (C)
  5. Chris Reid (3B)
  6. Bryce Jordan (DH)
  7. Beau Jordan (LF)
  8. Greg Deichmann (1B)
  9. Cole Freeman (2B)

Jared Poche (LHP)

FLORIDA

  1. Dalton Guthrie (SS)
  2. Jonathan India (3B)
  3. JJ Schwarz (C)
  4. Buddy Reed (CF)
  5. Nelson Maldonado (LF)
  6. Mike Rivera (DH)
  7. Deacon Liput (2B)
  8. Ryan Larson (RF)
  9. Jeremy Vasquez (1B)

A.J. Puk (LHP)