By: Terrill J. Weil
Da Boot Sports
BATON ROUGE, LA: LSU Head Coach Paul Mainieri and his Tigers will have an opportunity to advance to CWS in Omaha, Nebraska as they found out on Monday morning that received a NCAA Regional at-large bid.
The Tigers (34-22) will travel to Eugene, Oregon where they will be the #3 seed and matchup first against #2 seed Gonzaga (33-17) at 9:00pm CST on Friday. The #14 national seed Oregon (37-14), and Regional host, will take on the #4 seed, Central Connecticut (28-13) ay 4:30pm on Friday.
"We're five wins away from going to Omaha" said Mainieri. "That's the way I explain it to the team every year. 'we're not going to be play teams any tougher than we've been playing all season."
The regional bid comes just days after Paul Mainieri announced his retirement from coaching on Friday.. Several former LSU players and media members took to Twitter to thank the head coach for all that he has done for the purple and gold....
Alden Cartwright::: So much emotion. Much love and respect for Coach Mainieri. He help me fulfill a childhood dream and belived in me. It was the greatest honor to play for you, Coach!! Congratulations on one hell of a career!!
Jacques Doucet::: Paul Mainieri always returned a phone call + never declined a charity event. He constantly praised our
military + demanded his players represent the #LSU uniform with respect + class. The baseball talk is the baseball talk, but as a human being, I haven't covered many better.
Peter Burns::: 1,500+ wins, a CWS title, almost 100 players drafted by MLB and as good of a coach as he was for LSU......he was an even better person to his players and the media. A true college baseball Hall of Famer. LSU has been lucky to have multiple legends for coaches.
Ben McDonald::: Coach, congrats on 39 years as a Head Coach 15 at @LSUbaseball ...the first job as a HC is to
impact lives...prepare kids for life after baseball...Paul did that as good as anyone and bye the way collected over 1500 wins and a #NationalTitle along the way! Thank you and #4everLSU
Devon Fontenot::: "He's done a lot for me personally. Challenged me." Fontenot said they want to send Coach Mainieri out right."
Alex Lange::: Word a can’t describe the impact this man has had on the numerous players of the years. It was an honor to play for him. Congratulations Coach, on an impressive career. Thank you!
Cole Freeman::: I will forever be in debt to you coach. You gave me an opportunity when most wouldn’t. You taught me how to approach the game the right way & always got the most out of us. I’m beyond grateful to have had you as a coach but more importantly as a friend. Love you coach!#ForeverLSU
Antoine Duplantis::: I will forever be grateful to be given an opportunity by this man. Congratulations on a legendary career.
Alex Bregman::: True class. Amazing career Coach! Enjoy retirement!
Mikie Mahtook::: Coach, congrats on an amazing career! You challenged me, motivated me, and never let me settle for being mediocre. I wouldn’t be the player I am today without the lessons you taught me. Thank you for all you have done. #GeauxTigers
Blake Dean::: Coach my words will never be enough to repay the impact you had on my life but I’ll say it again Thank You!
Kramer Robertson::: Forever grateful for everything you did for me and so many others. You made it possible for me to live out so many of my dreams. You kept believing in me when nobody else did. I would not be where I am today without all the ups and downs that you guided me through. Love you coach..
Full schedule for the Eugene Regional is below; TV/Online schedule for Saturday, Sunday and Monday is TBA:Friday, June 4
Game 1 – Oregon vs. Central Connecticut - 4 p.m. CT (ESPN3)
Game 2 – Gonzaga vs. LSU - 9 p.m. CT (ESPN3)
Saturday, June 5
Game 3 – Game 1 Loser vs. Game 2 Loser - 3 p.m. CT
Game 4 – Game 1 Winner vs. Game 2 Winner - 9 p.m. CT
Sunday, June 6
Game 5 – Game 3 Winner vs. Game 4 Loser - 5 p.m. CT
Game 6 – Game 5 Winner vs. Game 4 Winner - 9 p.m. CT
Monday, June 7
Game 7 (if necessary) – Game 6 Repeat - 9 p.m. CT
Courtesy of LSU Sports Information
Da Boot Sports
BILL FRANQUES: It is with great pleasure and a tremendous honor for me to introduce for LSU Fighting Tigers, Coach Paul Mainieri.
PAUL MAINIERI: Thank you. Well, this is not necessarily a day I've been looking forward to, I've got to be honest with you.
But it is a day to reflect a little bit on some things. It's been amazing the outpouring of love and affection that I've been receiving from so many people. I've just been overwhelmed today with text messages and e-mails and phone calls and so much -- it's really just been overwhelming. I don't really feel that I'm deserving of it all. It's just so much appreciated, and I'm going to get back to everybody in due time.
It's been a pretty emotional couple of days. Before I talk about how I arrived to this decision, I'll tell you that I'm the luckiest guy that I know because when I was a young boy growing up in South Florida as the son of Demie Mainieri, my mentor, my father, my idol, my best friend (tearing up) I'm going to try and get through this, I'm sorry.
All I ever really wanted to do was be a college baseball coach, and I told him that when I was 14 years old. And you know, who gets to fulfill their childhood dream? And I got to do that. Not immediately. I became an assistant coach and I loved it. I was an assistant for my best friend, Jim Hendry who later on became the head baseball coach at Creighton University and took them to the College World Series and then became the general manager of the Chicago Cubs.
When Jim left to become an assistant coach at Creighton University, I naturally thought I would be promoted to become the head baseball coach at Columbus High School, but unfortunately the brothers at Columbus High School had different plans. They decided to promote another brother in their religious order to be the head coach, and although I understood that, it kind of put a detour on my plans for my career.
Fortunately for me, there was a small college in Miami. At that time it was called Biscayne College, later St. Thomas University, where I had received my masters degree. I was getting my masters degree at night, along with Jim, in a sports administration program, and their athletic director as a basketball coach, a man by the name of Ken Stibler.
So the job at Biscayne College was open and I called Ken Stibler and asked him if he had filled the position and he said he had not but had somebody in mind, but he had not offered him the job yet. And I was able to convince him to interview me before he offered that other person the job.
And then I was able to convince him that a 25-year-old that had never been a head coach even in high school, that I was the right man for the job. Of course, the job only had two scholarships, it had a terrible field and there had never been a coach there for more than two years and they had never had a winning season.
But he gave me an opportunity for the grand salary of $3,200. Now, I was the happiest guy in the world because I had fulfilled my dream of becoming a head baseball coach in college, and I don't know that Karen was the happiest person in the world for $3,200. But she was so supportive of me because she knew it was my dream to become a college coach. It was hard but we did it and I got to start my career, and you know, I threw myself into it, and that's how it all started.
Six years later, the United States Air Force Academy decided to civilianize their head coaching position and I was fortunate enough to land that job, and we up rooted the family, three small children under the age of five, and Karen was awesome and we moved the family out to Colorado Springs. And I had the great privilege of coaching these cadets who later on were going to become the leaders of our country.
What an awesome responsibility. I was so grateful to have that awesome responsibility to be a mentor to these young men who later on were going to be putting themselves in harm's way to be the custodians of our way of life. And I took that responsibility very seriously, and I'm proud to be able to say that I'm probably the only coach in America that can claim to have as former players, four general officers in our Armed Forces, and the coach at the Air Force Academy, Mike Kazlausky, is one of my former players after he had a flying career and retired as a major, as a C-17 pilot.
So I loved the Air Force Academy, as I loved St. Thomas University and I thought I'd be there for ever.
And then one day out of the clear blue, I get a phone call from the University of Notre Dame from the athletic director, first of all, let me mention the athletic director's name at the Air Force Academy, Colonel John Clune, who unfortunately passed away one year after he retired, but he was an unbelievable man and a great mentor for me.
Then the athletic director at the University of Notre Dame, Dick Rosenthal, called me out of the clear blue one day and wanted me to talk to him about the job at Notre Dame. There was only one problem. My wife, Karen, was pregnant, literally, ready to have a baby any day, my youngest son, Tommy.
So I couldn't go visit with them until she was ready to have the baby. So we had to wait patiently for Tommy to enter our world and once he did the next day I flew out to South Bend and Dick Rosenthal offered me the job and we decided to go ahead and take it.
It was an awesome experience. As hard as it was to leave the Air Force Academy, going to Notre Dame for 12 years was an amazing opportunity and a real privilege, and I thought I would be there for ever. In fact, I turned down several jobs, including a few in the SEC. In fact, Skip tried to -- Skip is it all right if I let go a little secret?
Skip tried to get me to go to the University of Georgia and become the baseball coach at one point during my time at Notre Dame. Vince Dooley had asked him to find a baseball coach for him, and I was very honored, but decided I was going to stay at Notre Dame.
And I was never going to leave Notre Dame. And then one day, I got a phone call from Skip Berkman, and again, my life was changed forever, because that was the only school that I would have even considered leaving Notre Dame for. When Karen and I came to a visit to Baton Rouge, picked us up at the airport and visited with Skip and Wally, my teammate from LSU, was very involved in the process; we visited all day about the job.
Skip was just the most amazing person because, you know, we have known each other since I think I was 11 years old. I don't know how old Skip was at the time, but our families were very close in South Florida while Skip was the coach at Miami Beach High School, and he was a legend even back then. My father was the coach at Miami-Dade North Community College.
I've told the story many times, everybody thinks that Skip was a great coach but I can dispel that rumor because he used to work with me in my backyard with my hitting and if you ever saw me hit, it would dispel the myth that Skip was a great coach because I couldn't hit a lick.
But our families were close and I followed Skip's career and he followed mine. When I came down, we could have very honest, open conversations with each other about whether this was the right thing for him and whether it was the right thing for me.
After spending a day together, we both decided that it was the right thing, and I was so flattered that the greatest baseball coach in the history of our game had so much confidence in me, that I was the right guy for the job here; it was impossible for me to turn him down.
I had people back in South Bend saying, why would you want to go there? Skip is so territorial over the baseball program. He won't let you -- he's going to tell you what to do, and it was exactly the opposite of that. He was an unbelievable mentor for me. He was a great counsel for me. I could go to him with anything. He never tried to push me to do anything, you know, that I didn't want to do. He did nothing but support me every step of the way and was my greatest advocate and ally.
I don't know if we would have ever had the success that we had if Skip was not here with me every step of the way, and I'll be forever grateful for him not just for bringing me here to Baton Rouge and giving me this opportunity, but for the way that he guided me through the time here. Thank you, Skip.
So, became the coach at LSU. The first year was a challenge. I never worked so hard in my life. We went 29-26-1, and sometimes you do your best work when the results don't really show out there on the field because we really worked hard that first year. You know, we had some unbelievable kids. Jared Bradford was probably the most amazing year of pitching that I've ever seen. We won 12 games that year in conference play and Jared Bradford either won or saved ten of the games.
Michael Hollander was a tremendous leader of that team. He was our shortstop and he was a gamer. And we had some freshmen that the previous staff had recruited that we played every day, Jared Mitchell, Blake Dean, Sean Ochinko, Ryan Schimpf, and they formed the cornerstone of our team. And we went through some real growing pains that first year, but I knew that we had some talent. But we had to get them into the right frame of mind to act and to think like winners.
And it was a process. Some kids stayed and some kids didn't. But the ones that stayed bought into the system, so to speak, and they bought into what I wanted to see out of the LSU baseball players.
Then our staff, Cliff Godwin and Terry Rooney, they went out and recruited a great class. DJ LeMahieu, Micah Gibbs, Anthony Ranaudo and on down the list. It was the No. 1 recruiting class in the country, and we started the 2008 season and I knew we had a better team. And, in fact, I told our team that fall before we ever played a game in the spring, I said 2008 -- Anthony is in the room somewhere, and Anthony will remember this.
I told the team in August, 2008 season will be the last time that anybody will ever take LSU lightly again, which was a pretty bold comment coming off of a 29-26 season.
And we started out rather slowly. In fact, it was pretty -- it was not very well. We were 40 games into the season if I remember correctly. We were 23-16-1. We were 6-11-1 in conference play with four weeks to go.
But I knew we had a good team. It was just we were this close: One more pitch, one more play, one more at-bat. I used to tell the kids, "We're this close."
And then I'll never for get on a Tuesday night at Tulane, we had second and third and one out, Matt Clark was up who had led the country in home runs that year, came up, here is our chance, eighth inning, one out, and Matt Clark strikes out. And you could just feel the dugout just kind of deflate.
And then this freshman, DJ LeMahieu, steps up and like he's doing for the New York Yankees now, smokes a line drive over the second baseman's head for a two-run single and all of a sudden instead of being down 4-3, we're up 5-4.
And the dugout is alive. And we go out there in the bottom of the eighth inning and we shut Tulane down and go to the top of the ninth and Micah Gibbs hits a two-run double and all of a sudden we are up by three and Paul Bertuccini closes them out in the bottom of the ninth inning and we had this great victory. And I huddled the team up in right field after the game and I said, "See, this is what it took. We just needed that one big hit. We just needed that one big pitch. This is what we are capable of doing. And now we're going to go on a roll."
Well, little did I know that that was going to be Game 1 of a 23-game winning streak. We didn't lose again the rest of the season. We won all four weekend series. We swept through four weekend series. We won all the mid-week games. We went to the SEC Tournament. We swept through the SEC Tournament. We swept through the Regional and had the Super Regional for the last games in the old historic, old Alex Box Stadium against Cal Irvine, and the 23-game win streak gets snapped on opening night, and our backs are against the wall. We either have to win or the season's over and the old Box is going to be closed down.
Here we are in the eighth inning, losing by three, I believe. Was it three, Anthony? I think we were losing by three. And we start to rally. Leon Landry walks and base hit and base hit. Next thing you know, we're up by two and we go to the ninth inning, and Louis Coleman closes them out and we win 9-7.
The next night, the place is jammed. I think the fire marshal took the night off because there were people sitting in the stairwells and everywhere else. You couldn't hear yourself think in old Alex Box stadium and we had back-to-back to back hole runs in the first inning. We hit seven home runs that night and we win 21-7 and go to Omaha and close-up the old Box in the most appropriate way.
Now we didn't win the National Championship but we had a tremendous victory out there when Blake Dean hit a bases-loaded double against Rice to walk them off. But it set the tone for the next season when we started out preseason No. 1 and we end up winning the National Championship in the first year of the new box. What an amazing two-year period that was.
We never won another National Championship, and that was disappointing to me. And I feel like we let down a lot of people by not doing that. But it certainly wasn't because of lack of effort, and it wasn't because we didn't have great teams.
Alex Bregman came in here, and I love that kid like a son, and it kills me that we didn't win a championship when he was here. We won 156 games during his three-year stretch, an average of 52 a year.
In 2013 we went to Omaha with a 57-9 record and we lose 2-1 to UCLA. You know, we lose 5-3 to UCLA. We had the bases loaded in the eighth inning and couldn't get the hit. Man, Skip made it look easy, but it's hard to win national championships. I found that out the hard way, unfortunately.
But we were a national seed many years. We had great teams. We just couldn't quite win that last game. 2017, man, we beat Oregon State two games in a row when they were 56-4. It felt like we won the National Championship but we just couldn't beat Florida in those last couple of games. You know, I hurt for Kramer and all of them because they deserved a National Championship but we just came up a little bit shy.
You know, we did the best we could. I'm so proud of all the kids that we had through those years because, you know, they took heat for not winning the championship, but they gave it their all. I think that they should be very proud of what they accomplished while they were here.
The craziest thing happened to me after the 2018 summer. I got to coach the USA national team. It was like the thrill of my life next to winning the National Championship, I should say, professional life. I got to manage the USA national team, and it was unbelievable. I had some of my best friends on the coaching staff. We spent three weeks together. We beat the Taipei team and we went to Cuba and beat the Japanese team in a series. It was thrilling to put the USA uniform on, and it was fulfilling a bucket list thing on my list.
Later that summer after we got back, I fulfilled a promise to my wife to go to Toledo, Ohio to visit the gravesite of her parents, and when we threw flew home, I had this stiff neck after we got off the airplane and thought I slept wrong or something. But for some reason, this stiff neck wouldn't go away. A couple months ago, I still had this terrible stiff neck.
So anyway, it's just been -- it kept bothering me for a couple of months, and eventually I sent the X-rays and the MRI to one of my former players from Notre Dame who is a surgeon up in Chicago, and he diagnosed the problem and said that I needed to have surgery. So I went to Chicago and had this surgery on my neck. It helped quite a bit but it didn't totally take care of the problem.
So I went to see another surgeon down here and he felt that I needed another surgery on another level on my spine, and I ended up having another surgery, and it helped some, as well.
But I've just been having this terrible neck pain, really, for about almost three years now, and it's kind of morphed into these headaches and so forth. So I just have not felt well for almost three years now. And it affects my sleeping and it affects the way I feel during the day. I've had so many people tell me, you know, friends being very honest with me, man, you look awful, in a very delicate way. They just tell me, you look awful.
I say, well, I feel the way I look. Anyway. I just haven't felt myself for the last couple of years. And I think it's really affected the way (tearing up) sorry.
I think it's affected the way I've been able to coach because as a coach, I think that one of my greatest strengths has been to be very engaged with the players, you know, pitching batting practice and talking to the players and just getting active with them. I just haven't been able to do that as much the last couple years.
And consequently, I just don't feel like I've been the same coach. I don't think I've been a bad coach but I just don't think that I've been the same coach. And fortunately, we have a great staff, and those guys have really carried the load, Alan and Eddie and Nolan have just been phenomenal. They have done just fantastic work and picked up the slack because I just don't feel like I've been carrying my weight.
So yesterday morning, I got up and Karen and I talked about it quite a bit. I had been thinking about it for several months, and I reached out to Scott and asked him if he was in town and if I could come and visit with him, you know, and I just told him that I just had not been feeling well, and I just thought that maybe the program (tearing up) maybe the program would be better served if somebody else was leading it.
And let me tell you, it hurt to say that because I love coaching, and I love doing what I'm doing, what I've done for 39 years. It's all I ever wanted to do, really. I was worried how Scott would react, but I can't even begin to express to you how fantastic Scott was to me; the compassion that he showed and I mean, what an amazing leader. You know, just a phenomenal person, compassionate, and just made it very easy for me to talk to him about it.
And so we agreed that I should step down. And I wanted to talk to him yesterday about it, because I've been thinking about it long enough. I had been thinking about it for, you know, really, a few months. It wasn't a snap decision. I thought if I wait until, you know, if we get a bid and we play next weekend and we win next weekend and then it's a Super Regional and then we get to Omaha and so forth, and we keep delaying and delaying, and then I take a week to think about it or two weeks to think about it, I just feel like I'm setting the program behind, and I didn't want to do that. You know, kids are going into transfer portal all the time. Kids need to know what their situation is, and I didn't want to -- I wanted to give Scott and his staff a chance to find my replacement in a timely fashion to where the program could be strong for next year. And I think it can be strong. I think there's a really good foundation. I think we can win a Regional and I think we can win a Super Regional and I think we can still go to Omaha if we get the opportunity next week. I really do believe we will get the opportunity and I think we can play well and I think we can make something out of this year.
I also believe that there's a really good foundation. When you have guys like Morgan and Crews as young kids and some of those freshmen arms have started to emerge, I think there's a very strong foundation there.
And whoever the new coach is going to be, they can come in and they can fill some holes and get some pieces, and I think they can be a championship club. We can be a championship club in a very, very short time. And I want that to happen. I'm going to live in Baton Rouge. Karen and I just built a house in St. Gabriel. My son, Tommy, just graduated from LSU dental school. Very proud of him. He's going to practice right over there on Highland Road. We're going to live one house removed from my daughter, Samantha, and my son-in-law, Nick, and my two grandchildren.
I'm going to be the biggest fan and supporter of the LSU Baseball program. Skip and I will be watching the games together hopefully. You know, we'll be second-guessing that guy out there, why didn't you bunt? Why did you bunt? Why did you leave him in so long? Why did you take him out so early.
You know, I want to see the program continue to prosper. I want to see them continue to get better, just like Skip wanted me to succeed and see the program succeed. I want the same thing for the next coach and for these kids that are in the program now.
So this decision was my decision, and it hurt to make this decision because it's what I've done my whole life. It's going to be weird waking up one morning and not being a coach anymore.
But I'm also very excited about the rest of my life. Karen and I are going to enjoy our life, and we're going to do some things that we haven't been able to do. I've got a bucket list. I want to go to the Kentucky Derby. I want to watch the Masters. I want to go to the Indianapolis 500. You know what I want to do, really? I want to go visit former players. I don't want them to come to my funeral some day. I won't be able to enjoy them. I want to enjoy them while I'm alive and I want to see how the fruits of my labor have turned out and see their families what they have become. One of them operated on me so I know one of them is successful. I had all the confidence in the world when he opened my throat and inserted a prosthetic disk into my vertebrae. That's what Skip and I do. You think we're in the business to win games and win championships? We're not in that at all. We're in it to prepare kids for life after college and that's what we went into this business for.
I want to go see and visits kids and see how successful they have become, and see the families that we have raised and how they are doing with their lives. So I'm not -- and then Scott and Stephanie have invited me to help out with the athletic department in some way. I'm not really sure what they have in mind, but whatever they want me to do, I'll do it because I love LSU and I think the world of the leadership of our program.
We've gone through a little bit of a tough stretch but these people are tough and they are great and they are great human beings, and we're going to survive anything that came our way. If I can help in any way, all they need to do is ask and I'll be there for him and I hope that I can of help somewhere in some way.
It's been really the honor of my life to serve this university and to be the baseball coach for 15 years. You know, Skip Berkman had the confidence in me (tearing up). I told Skip when I came here, that my only goal was to make him proud and I hope I've done that. Did my best.
Does anybody have any questions?
Q. The neck pain, is that really ultimately just what did it, the amount of pain and chronic headaches you've been dealing with this year and throughout the last three years?
PAUL MAINIERI: It's been a lot. It's been a big factor. I can't say it's the only factor. It's been a big factor. I know you've had neck pain, so you know how debilitating it can make you feel. It didn't -- I'm not an -- I mean, I'm not incapacitated or anything like that. I want to see if -- I hope it's the stress of the job that has made it worse, you know what I mean. If I'm not the baseball coach, and the stress of feeling like, you know, you've got it all on you, I'm hoping that's what it was and that by not being the baseball coach, it will feel better.
You know, this job is totally encompassing. It's with you 365 days a year 24 hours a day. I'm looking forward to smiling a lot more and laughing a lot more and being around my family and engaged with my family on Mother's Day. I don't want to be like the person over there in the corner worrying about who is tomorrow's starting pitcher instead of being engaged with my family, and I'm hoping it will feel a lot better when I'm not stressed out all the time.
So I don't know, I thought I would be feeling better by now, but I don't know. I couldn't give you a percentage of how much it's been a factor. There's other issues, too, you know, but it's hard to quantify them all.
Q. In this decision, coming to grips and realizing you can't coach the way you want, but you love the game so much you didn't want to leave it; was that going back and forth in your head? Because you've always wanted to fight through stuff no matter what.
PAUL MAINIERI: You know, just imagine giving up writing. You know, if you had to give up writing, even though you know it was the right thing to do, it's something you've done your whole life. I love baseball and I love coaching. I love impacting kids' lives, and then all of the custody, you're not going to do that voluntarily, even though you know it's the right thing. Standing out there on the field today during practice, I know it's the right thing, I know I made the right decision. In my heart, I know it, but it's still hard.
Karen and I have talked about this, and quite frankly, there's been times when she's said, "I think you might regret this decision."
And my response to her was, "Yeah, I will regret it some days." If you did something that you loved for 39 years, how can you not regret it some days? If you didn't regret it, what would that say about the last 39 years of your life; that you were miserable? I've loved what I've done. And there's going to be days where I wish that I hadn't made this decision because I'm going to miss it terribly. But there's going to be times when I'm going to say I know I did the right thing.
Listen when I had to make the decision to leave Notre Dame to come to LSU, it didn't mean that I knew 100 percent of the time that I did the right thing because I missed Notre Dame when I came here. I know people don't want to hear me say that but it's true, because I loved the time that I was at Notre Dame and there were days when I said, "Man, I hate that I left there." Didn't mean I loved LSU any less. I just hated leaving there.
And it's not going to mean I'm not glad I'm retired and doing something else and being with my family or doing something else, but I'm going to miss coaching. I'm going to miss baseball. I'm going to miss being with the kids and the thrill of victory.
It's pretty hard to describe what it's like to be standing on that top step and looking around Alex Box Stadium and seeing 10,000, 11,000, 12,000 people on their feet and being so loud you can't even hardly hear yourself think, and seeing the support up there and seeing people like Billy and knowing how much it means to other people, you know, and knowing that you're playing a role in making people happy.
When I walk down the street and people wave to me and say, "Hey, Coach, go get 'em," that's not an ego thing but it makes me proud. It makes me feel good that you're playing a role in something that matters to people. I'm going to miss that. I'm going to miss that.
I'm not going to miss some things. I'm not going to miss getting walked off at Tennessee; I can tell you that. That's miserable.
Q. I heard today you went to Coach Bertman's house and told him personally of your decision. What made you want to do that? Talk about how much he's meant to your in your career here.
PAUL MAINIERI: Well, if I didn't do that, then there's something wrong with me. The only reason I'm here is because of Skip.
That was a priority for me.
First thing I did was talk to my coaches and the rest of the staff and I talked to them all individually this morning. Then we had a team meeting at 11:30 and I think it was 10:30 when I drove to Skip's house. I was a little pressed for time but I couldn't talk to the team until I talked to Skip first. That was a major priority for me.
I mean, I love the man. He means everything to me. Like I said I've known him since I was probably 11 years old and I've always admired him. I don't know if there was anybody else would I have even come to LSU.
When Karen and I came to LSU, Tommy was going into the sixth grade, but Samantha was going into her sophomore year in college. Alexandra was going into her senior year at ball state, and Nick had just graduated from Notre Dame and was going to start a job in the Notre Dame fastball office.
So by us coming to LSU was like sending three of our children away at one time, and we had always had our children all around us. I always give credit to Tommy. I told Tommy, if it wasn't for him, even with Skip, I would have never taken the LSU job. We had to have at least one child with us, and if it wasn't for Tommy, we could have never come down here, you know.
But you know, Skip was just that person that I just admired him so much. I respected him so much; that when he showed that kind of confidence in me; that he wanted me to be the coach here and he thought I was the right person and he explained to me why he thought I was the right person, I mean, how can you not be terribly flattered by that; that, combined with the bought of, okay, I think I was 49 years old at the time, and I said to myself, I've always told my players in the biggest games, you can't be afraid. You've got to go out there and you've got to let it rip. The big games are yours because you're going to be more confident than the other team and you're not going to be afraid and you're going to go for the gold. You're not going to be scared.
I kind of looked in the mirror and I thought, man, I'd better start taking the advice that I give my players all the time, take it personally. I can't not go to LSU because I'm afraid of failure for myself. I might go down there and crash and burn, but I've got to take my swings at it. The combination of not wanting to go through life regretting anything and wanting to fulfill Skip's belief in me were the reasons that I took the job at LSU.
And I'm so glad that I did. Listen, there's been some rough times. We haven't won every game. You know, we haven't won every championship. We've had a lot of success but we've had some difficult moments, too. But it changed our life forever. All of my children have met their spouses here. Our lives have been enriched by coming to Baton Rouge. We've made friends. Everything good has happened to us here. You've got to believe. You've got to believe in yourself and you've got to go for it, and that's the mental I always give to our players, without great risk does not come great reward.
Q. I'm sure we would all like to thank you for your time and your patience and your education that you provided us throughout the year. Congratulations to your family, as well, for getting their father and husband back. How did the meeting go with your team and how do you see the rest of this season now that you have this announcement? How do you see the rest of the season unfolding?
PAUL MAINIERI: Well, it was hard to talk to the team. You know, when I recruit -- when we recruited those players, really, Nolan did most of the work, and Eddie and Alan, of course, contributed greatly.
But when we recruited the players here, it was my intention to see them all through their career. I have three years left on my contract. So I didn't want them to feel like I lied to them, and I apologized to them for that. It was not my intention to retire this year when I recruited them. I didn't want them to lose respect for me, to think that I misled them in any way.
So I asked for their forgiveness for that, No. 1.
But No. 2, I also told them that LSU is LSU and the leadership of the athletic department is the best there is, and they were going to go out and find the very best baseball coach in the country to come to LSU. I have no doubt about that. So they should not be alarmed at all that Paul Mainieri is leaving, because they are going to find a great baseball coach and they should be very confident in that fact for the rest of their career here.
And the next thing we talked about was, you know, that on Monday, there's going to be a selection committee. And I'm proud of our team. Look, we didn't accomplish what we typically accomplish at LSU during the regular season and the SEC Tournament, but I'm also proud because there were times when they could easily have given up, and we haven't given up. We didn't accomplish everything we should have. There certainly are areas we could have done better in, but they didn't give up. And if we get an opportunity to get in the NCAA Tournament, I feel very confident that this team is going to go out and play their hearts out next weekend, and I'm all in. I'm not retired yet. The season is not over yet. I believe wholeheartedly that we'll get a bit, and if we do, the coaching staff is going to be totally engaged and where are we get sent, we are going to lay like LSU Tigers are supposed to play. And I think we can win a Regional and then we'll think about a Super Regional after that.
I think the guys had a great practice today and we'll practice again tomorrow. We'll take Sunday off and we'll watch the selection show on Monday and hopefully our name will get called. If it's not called, then we'll deal with it at that time.
Q. We appreciated covering you for 15 years and always appreciate you returning phone calls and just being great to the media. I talked to a few of your players today and they said you would drop in on class to make sure they are going to class and make sure they were doing the right things off the field, and it's hard to remember anybody ever getting in trouble in your 15 years. What pride do you take in the fact that the guys represented the program so well off the field? And thank you for kind of being hard on them while they were here.
PAUL MAINIERI: Well, it starts in recruiting. If you recruit good kids, then typically you're not going to have a lot of problems.
So we're pretty selective in the kids that we recruit. When we recruit them, we tell them what the expectations are. We don't pull the wool over their eyes and just sugarcoat everything. We talk to them about what the expectations are for their behavior off the field, and how we want them to play on the field.
So it's not prison. You know, we want them to have fun and enjoy themselves, but to be a member of the program, we expect a certain way to act and be representatives of LSU. I think the kids for the most part buy into that and they understand that's a responsibility that when you're an LSU athlete, you're under the microscope and you should conduct yourself in a certain way.
So I'm pretty proud of the way that you're players through the years have represented our university. I get a lot of compliments from people in the public about how polite our baseball players are. They sign every autograph. They are polite to youngsters. They give great advice to young kids and do the right thing most of the time, and that's something I take an awful lot of pride in. You know, and then they go out and be successful once they leave here.
You know, most of them graduate. I forget the statistics, Bill knows them, about how the kids that have finished their careers here at LSU -- do you remember what that number is, Bill? I want to say there's been like 133, something like that, 133 kids that have finished their careers at LSU. That doesn't include some transfers or whatever, but 133 kids that have finished their playing careers at LSU; 132 of the 133 have either signed professionally or graduated or both. I'm pretty proud of that.
You know when you come to LSU, you're supposed to prepare yourself for life after LSU. That's the first question I ask kids at our first team meeting: Why did you come to LSU? What are you supposed to gain by coming to LSU? And usually one kid will answer, "Win a National Championship." Good answer, but that's not exactly the right answer.
Somebody will invariably raise their hand and say, "To graduate." Good answer, but that's not exactly the right answer.
What you're doing is prepare yourself for life after LSU. That's why you go to college. So if you prepared yourself as an athlete that you were good enough to sign professionally, you've prepared yourself, or if you've graduated, now you've prepared yourself for the working world.
But I think the thing maybe I'm most proud of, I want to say we've had maybe 25 players that signed professionally, including Anthony Ranaudo who was a first-round draft choice who signed professionally after they graduated because they signed after their junior year; they came back to school and finished their degree while they were in professional baseball. How many first-round draft choices comeback to college and finish their degrees? We had I think four or five first=round draft choices that have done that Mikie Mahtook, Anthony -- Anthony, do you remember the others?
I want to say there's four or five first-rounders that have done that. I'd have to go back and check the list. 25 players signed professionally and then came back and finished their degrees. I mean, those are things I'm really proud of.
But that's not because of me alone believe me. It's because we had this Cox Communications Academic Center, and they are the ones that have the program set up. Scott Woodward is the one that gives them the resources to operate that, and they have had great program over there that gives these kids the opportunity to graduate and prepare themselves for life after LSU. They are crazy if they don't take advantage of it. So I'm proud of it.
Q. You've always been great personally with me and the DI staff, so we say thanks. In Omaha after you've been eliminated, you've always been -- you took the losses hard as you put your arms around your players, and you said it was always so much rougher because of the players, how you felt for the players. Why was that such a strong bond when seasons would end just short of National Championships and you're relation to the players?
PAUL MAINIERI: Well, it just goes back to why I went into coaching in the first place. I was the son of did he meany manner I. I was 14 years old and I told him I wanted to be a baseball coach, and when he asked me why, I said it was because I watch you and the relationship that you have with your players, and I see the way that you impact their lives. That's what I want to do. I want to impact young people's lives."
So whether I coached at St. Thomas, whether I coached at Air Force or whether I coached at Notre Dame or LSU, listen, the pressure to win ratcheted up with each passing job but my passion for coaching never changed. It was always about the kids for me. I was a teacher and an educator first and foremost.
A lot more people cared about the program at LSU than they did at St. Thomas university; I'm talking about externally, but that didn't change the fact that I was a teacher and an educator of young people. I'm teaching life lessons with those kids, and sometimes their life lessons are taught by disappointment and failure.
You know, when you have disappointment and failure, you have two choices. You can lay there and feel defeated and feel sorry for yourself and go through life feeling like a loser or you can pick yourself up by the bootstraps and come back and show what kind of a person you are and make something out of yourself. Who is supposed to teach them those lessons? That's what the coach is supposed to do, and what's the role that I thought I had.
It's hard sometimes because you're disappointed as a coach and you're going to be criticized because you're the one being held responsible for everything but you can't ever forget as the coach, you're supposed to be there for the players. That's your No. 1 responsibility. Sometimes we lose sight of that I think in our profession. I hope I never did. I don't think my father would have ever let me.
Q. As you mulled over this decision, was there any element of you and your family trying to savor it as much as you possibly could?
PAUL MAINIERI: I did and I tried to and I kept getting that advice from my oldest son, Nick. My oldest son, Nick is wise beyond his years. When I was going for the decision going interest Notre Dame to LSU, he was amazing counsel. Fathers are supposed to be counsel for their children.
But my son, Nick was great. He graduated from Notre Dame and he was wise beyond his years and he counseled me through it. Even as this year was unfolding and I would kind of talk to him about how I was feeling about things, and he would say, "Dad, just go out there and just enjoy each and every game."
But then what would happen is you would get into the heat of battle -- I hate to use the word battle because it's not war; it's just the competition, the heat of competition. And you want to win so badly -- you know, I just got off the phone with one of my mentors, Ron Maestri, my coach from the University of New Orleans. I didn't curse him out but I said, "Maes, you're the one that I need to blame for who I am." I said, "I played for you for two years and you made every damn game seem like it was the most important game, ever. Like we had to win every damn game, every inning. More so than even my own father. You wore so intense and I took that gene from you." And it aged me, you know, every single damn game was like the end of the world.
Skip coached against Maes, you know how he was -- every pitch, every game, and that's how I was. I might not have shown it externally but that's how I was, and I don't know how many games have I coached, Bill, like 2,200 or something, right? It starts to wear on you.
But yet even at the end, even as I was feeling like this was going to be my last season, and I just tried to enjoy it and smell the roses, you want to win the damn game so bad that it was hard to just sit back and say, "Oh, isn't this lovely, we're playing a baseball game, what a beautiful stadium." You want to win and you want your kids to play well and you want them to taste the fruits of victory, and when you don't win, at the end of the day, you know, you're miserable. I hate to say it but you are.
I know in the total scheme of things, the fact that the other team scored more runs than you on a given day and the total scope of life is not that important, but it felt like it was and it takes its toll on you after a while, after 2,200 games. I always told people I was going to donate my internal organs to the Smithsonian, and it would say: "There lie the internal organs of a college baseball coach, see what it does to him." It takes its toll on you when it matters so much.
You know, you put so much into it. I told Maes, I said, "I've always been jealous of that coach in the other dugout that it just didn't seem to matter that much to him; that he could lose." Skip and I talked about this at lunch one day. Some coaches, you play against them and you beat them and they come over and they are smiling and laughing and shaking hands. You know, it's like it didn't even bother them that they lost.
Me, I'll be gracious, but then I want to rip my hair out after a lot. My family knows that, I'm not very good at losing. Unfortunately I've had a lot of practice at it but I'm still not very good at it. But it's who I am, you know. You put so much into it and you want to win.
I don't apologize for it. I do it within the rules, but if you're going to put all that effort into it, you might as well try to win, right. That's the way I always looked at it.
Q. Everybody knows about Skip Bertman and there's a generation now that grew up just knowing you primarily for LSU Baseball. What does that mean to you?
PAUL MAINIERI: I had not really thought of that at all to be honest with you. Skip is the father of modern LSU Baseball. He's the greatest of all time.
Honestly, I just felt like I was the custodian of this baseball program. Honestly, I honestly felt that way. I never came here with the idea that I was going to ever be greatest than Skip Bertman. I did want to be the second-best coach in the history of LSU, I'll be honest with you about that. I never thought I'd ever pass him and I certainly didn't, okay. But I hope I kept the program respectable.
And certainly I hope my legacy not tied to the results of what happened this year. This was not a standard that we are used to here at LSU, at least up to this point. It's not over yet, hopefully, okay.
But I'm proud of a lot of the accomplishments that we've had. We've had some good things happen during my time here. We've had some special moments. One day I'll reflect back on them and be pretty proud of a lot of the things that we did.
But one thing I know, and this is -- I'll tell you this. I've told this story a lot of times that when I was a graduate student at St. Thomas University while I was a high school coach, I had a professor by the name of Joe Hoy who was one of my mentors. During one class, he gave all the students a poem, and I don't remember the entire poem but the name of the poem was "The Indispensable Man," and there was one stanza that I remember -- is that what you call a paragraph in a poem, a stanza? Okay. I'll paraphrase it to some degree, okay.
He said: If you want to know how indispensable you are, fill a bucket with water, clench your fist, stick your fist into the bottom of the bucket of water, and then remove your fist, is the hole that remains will be how much you'll be missed. And I've always remembered that. In other words, the clock will move forward. Scott and Stephanie will find a new baseball coach. LSU Baseball will go forward. I will become history.
Maybe some people will remember me and maybe they won't, and that will be okay (tearing up) it will be okay, really. I'll have my family. I did the best I could. It gave me a great life. I got to fulfill my dream. I was honored to be the coach here. I didn't accomplish what Skip accomplished, but we did okay. And if people want to remember me, they will remember me, and if they don't, so be it.
But I'm not indispensable. I want the program to be great. I want the new coach to come in here and do better than I did, and I hope he does. And I'm just really proud of the fact that I got to be the coach here for 15 years. I've enjoyed it. I've loved it. I've loved the kids. I've loved my assistants, and I'm really proud of the things that we did. I'm proud of what we produced as players and human beings that have gone through the program, guys like Anthony and his teammates. I'm glad we got to win a championship. I'm glad we got to go to Omaha five times. I'm glad we won eight regionals and I'm glad we did a lot of things we did successfully.
But life will go on, and I'm glad I got to be a part -- a small part of the history of LSU Baseball. We'll see what the future holds.
BILL FRANQUES: Thanks to Coach Paul Mainieri. Coach Bertman would like to speak and say a few words to Coach Mainieri, as well.
SKIP BERTMAN: It's very tough, since you're nine or ten or eight, every summer you play ball and then you coached, never did anything else. It's very tough. I feel for Paul's emotion up here.
But the reason I wanted to talk, No. 1, is I asked Scott Woodward first if I could say something. And of course he said yes. Yeah, I hired Paul and I'm very proud of that. I'm very proud of Paul Mainieri and what he's done here. It isn't just measured in this National Championship, but that's kind of silly. It's measured in the young men and how they do. His graduation rate is about as close to 100 percent as you could possibly be. He's never had a problem with the NCAA and he's never had a problem with media or any of you people.
His family, God bless you, Karen, and the children and grandchildren, he managed to have this kind of pressure and his family and not all coaches can do that. Not all coaches have the tension visibility that you have in baseball here at LSU. He wanted to win every game and there's a lot of tension in that, but I respect that very much. Not all coaches do that. I respect them as a person. He has been a beacon of a roam for the players that have been here, and as the media man pointed out, those players will tell you that if you ask them -- I spoke to some media people earlier today, and told them I didn't want to speak to them at that time, and that I would say something here if I could.
Scott gave me permission and I just want to say, I'm proud of you, Paul, and I'm proud of everything that he has done and that he's accomplished. I'm proud of all the players that he's put out there. I'm proud of all the coaches that have been put out there and gosh, so much goes on and so many schools beyond winning and losing, and all kinds of problems. There was never a problem like that. Wasn't even close. I mean, you can't just be a coach here and 150 years of baseball, you pick up a lot of stuff. But Paul's a man. He's a pro. Yeah, he spoke to me. He spoke to the coaching staff. He spoke to the kids. He did it right. He could have waited a longer time but it's better for the school and for Scott that he didn't do that.
He's done everything with class, dignity and I'm proud of what Paul has done as my hire at university and I love you, Paul, and I love the family and the way they have managed.
I'm also very happy for Scott, the ad who wants to keep Paul as a man with immense talent beyond coaching baseball. He can be a second party to a Tiger athletic foundation or an athletic development officer and go to lunch and close the deal. I mean, he can do a gazillion things that we need here, and I'm really proud that he's going to be here.
And you're right. Paul and I will now be watching the games together, as I've never missed many games, either here or on TV or on the radio and I'm very excited about Paul. It's a wonderful record.
Let me say this -- check me out here, Bill. He's a guy that's won over 30 different championships if you add in the SEC or the West or you throw in a Regional and Super Regional and so on. That's a lot. And there's only been -- check me out here -- there's only been five coaches in the history of college baseball that have won 1,500 games and a National Championship. He's the winningest-coach in college baseball at this minute, and of course he's still active and I hope that continues.
The kids never quit. They really played like they always have for Paul, and his staff, with a lot of intensity and they have always carried themselves outside with a lot of dignity.
And it's tough to lose and walk through that gate and there's 50 people that ask you for pictures are or autographs. Paul's players stood up -- I watched them -- and they did that.
So it's stuff beyond W's. Paul's got a lot of wins and losses and did very well, but he's done all the other things, tremendous, and just wanted to say I'm proud of you.
Does anybody have a question for me about Paul? Because that's all I'm talking about, okay. Thanks a lot -- whoa, Wilson. Question or something?
Q. You obviously said you hired Paul. Could it have gone much better than this? Is this what you envisioned what you had hired? Could it have gone much better than this?
PAUL MAINIERI: The question; what did you envision when you hired Paul. I didn't envision somebody coming in and winning six or seven National Championships. It's not Paul. It's not me. It's the game. The game is a law of large numbers. You put your pitcher out there and ump calls a pitch and one day he calls it a strike but the next pitch, it's a ball. It's a 50/50 -- all right. That's going to take place. That's the game.
What happens is that -- I've said this many times. Today all the teams are that close (indicating). Boy, it's tough to win. Where is the dynasty guy? Where is the team that keeps going on winning where is he? Nobody's done a better job than Paul's done in 15 years, and that includes all staff, players, graduation, wins and losses and other things and taking care of his family and being a great beacon in the community. He did that. Can't do it any better, I'm sorry.
Anybody else? Thanks, Bill. Thanks, Scott.
BILL FRANQUES: Thank you again for being with us this evening.
LSU Sports Information
By: William Franques
BATON ROUGE, La. – LSU baseball coach Paul Mainieri, who led the Tigers to the 2009 national championship and is No. 1 among active NCAA Division I coaches in career victories, announced Friday that he will retire at the end of the 2021 season.
Mainieri, whose collegiate career spans 39 seasons – including the past 15 years at LSU – will coach the Tigers in the 2021 NCAA Tournament should they receive a berth in the 64-team field.
"I have been the luckiest guy in the world to have lived out a childhood dream of becoming a college baseball coach," Mainieri said. "I've worked at four wonderful institutions, and it's been the honor of my life to have served as the head coach at LSU for 15 years. To have carried the torch of a program built by Skip Bertman, the greatest college baseball coach of all time, has been a tremendous privilege. It has always been my unwavering goal to sustain the excellence that was created here.
"I've been blessed throughout my career to coach unbelievable young men of great character and skill, and to have worked with talented and dedicated assistant coaches, support staff and administrators. It's very difficult to leave a profession that I truly love, but I'm so grateful for the amazing opportunities that have been presented to me through the years."
"Paul Mainieri has made an immeasurable impact not only at LSU, but across college baseball," said director of athletics Scott Woodward. "Every day he has taken the field, he has honored the game he loves with his class, his character, and his commitment to excellence. We are forever grateful for the championships he has won, the student athletes he has inspired, and memories he has gifted our fans over 15 seasons."
The 63-year-old Mainieri has a 1,501-774-8 (.659) career record that includes six seasons at St. Thomas (1983-88), six seasons at Air Force (1989-94), 12 seasons at Notre Dame (1995-2006) and 15 seasons at LSU (2007-21). He is No. 7 all-time among NCAA Division I Baseball coaches in career wins.
He is one of only five coaches in NCAA Division I Baseball history to win 1,500 games and a national championship. The others are Augie Garrido (Cal State Fullerton/Texas), Gene Stephenson (Wichita State), Jim Morris (Miami, Fla.) and Mark Marquess (Stanford).
During Mainieri's LSU tenure, the Tigers have captured a remarkable 30 team championships, including the 2009 NCAA title, eight NCAA Regional championships, five College World Series appearances/NCAA Super Regional championships, four Southeastern Conference championships, six SEC Tournament titles and six SEC Western Division crowns. His six SEC tournament titles tie him with former LSU coach Skip Bertman and former Alabama coach Jim Wells for the most in league history.
Mainieri is the second-winningest coach at LSU with a 637-282-3 (.693) mark, and he has the third-highest career winning percentage in SEC history, trailing only Bertman, who was 870-330-3 (.724) from 1984-2001, and former South Carolina coach Ray Tanner, who posted a 738-316 (.700) mark from 1997-2012.
Under Mainieri, the Tigers earned an NCAA Tournament Top 8 National Seed in six consecutive seasons (2012-17), making LSU and Stanford (1999-2004) the only schools in NCAA history to capture six straight Top 8 National Seeds. Since 2008, LSU has earned nine NCAA Tournament National Seeds, the second-best mark in the country over the past 13 seasons.
Mainieri's LSU players have earned First-Team All-America recognition on 13 occasions, and 20 of his former Tigers have played Major League Baseball, including MLB All-Stars DJ LeMahieu, Alex Bregman and Aaron Nola. LSU players have been chosen in the MLB Draft on 88 occasions during Mainieri's tenure, including a first-round selection in seven of the past 12 seasons.
He served as the head coach of the United States Collegiate National Team for its 2018 summer tour, and he led Team USA to a 12-3 record that included series victories over Chinese Taipei, Japan and Cuba.
His sincere commitment to everyday excellence was recognized in a substantial way on January 3, 2014, in Dallas when he was inducted into the American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame. Mainieri, a four-time National Coach of the Year, joined in the Hall of Fame his father, Demie Mainieri, who coached Miami-Dade North Community College to 1,012 wins and a national title in his 30-year career. Demie and Paul Mainieri are the only father-son combination in the ABCA Hall of Fame.
Mainieri's emphasis upon academic achievement has been illustrated by the Tigers' performance in the classroom, as 103 LSU baseball players have earned their degrees during his tenure. Twenty-five of the graduates were players who signed professional contracts before completing their college eligibility and returned to LSU to finish their degree requirements. In addition, LSU players have received SEC Academic Honor Roll recognition on 141 occasions over the past 14 seasons.
When Mainieri was hired as LSU's coach in June 2006, he expressed a clear vision for the future of the Fighting Tiger program. Just three years later, LSU occupied the pinnacle position in college baseball as the 2009 NCAA National Champions. Mainieri directed the '09 Tigers to the College World Series title, posting a 56-17 overall record, including a 10-1 mark in NCAA Tournament competition.
Mainieri had served for 12 seasons as the head coach at Notre Dame when he accepted then LSU director of athletics Skip Bertman's offer to take over the LSU program. Mainieri directed Notre Dame to 14 different team titles, including a 2002 NCAA Super Regional championship and a berth in the College World Series. Sixty of Mainieri's Fighting Irish players signed professional contracts, and eight of them reached the Major Leagues.
He was the first civilian baseball coach at the United States Air Force Academy from 1989-94, and four of his players went on to attain the rank of general in the armed forces. One of his former players, retired Major Mike Kazlausky, is now the head coach at Air Force.
His collegiate coaching career began in 1983 at St. Thomas University in Miami, Fla. In March 2013, St. Thomas named its new baseball facility in honor of Mainieri, who also worked as the school's director of athletics for three years.
Mainieri first joined the coaching profession at his alma mater, Columbus High School in Miami, where he worked as assistant baseball coach – for head coach Jim Hendry, his best friend and future GM of the Chicago Cubs – and assistant football coach. He was inducted into the Columbus High Sports Hall of Fame in 2009.
Along with his father, he counted among his mentors Hall of Fame manager and two-time World Series champion Tommy Lasorda of the Los Angeles Dodgers; and legendary former University of New Orleans baseball coach and athletics director Ron Maestri, who led UNO to the College World Series in 1984.
Mainieri, who was born in Morgantown, W. Va., and raised in Miami, will achieve his goal of finishing his collegiate baseball career in the same place it began 45 years ago. He earned a letter in 1976 as a freshman outfielder at LSU, where he also met his future wife, Karen, then a Fighting Tiger cheerleader.
Mainieri played one season for his father at Miami-Dade North Community College and two seasons at UNO, where the second baseman helped the Privateers win two Sun Belt Conference titles and advance to the 1979 NCAA Tournament.
After completing his undergraduate degree requirements at Florida International in 1980, Mainieri earned a master's in sports administration from St. Thomas in 1982.
Paul and Karen are now the proud parents of four children – Nicholas, Alexandra, Samantha and Thomas; and four grandchildren – Holden, Jonathan, Wren and Rocco.
LSU Baseball under Paul Mainieri
NCAA National Champions
NCAA National Runners-Up
College World Series Appearances
2008, 2009, 2013, 2015, 2017
NCAA Regional Champions
2008, 2009, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2019
NCAA Tournament National Seeds
2008, 2009, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2019
Southeastern Conference Champions
2009, 2012, 2015, 2017
SEC Tournament Champions
2008, 2009, 2010, 2013, 2014, 2017
Paul Mainieri's Coaching Superlatives at LSU
• 2018 U.S. Collegiate National Team Coach and Recipient of 2018 USA Baseball Rod Dedeaux Award
• 2017 Stan Musial Award
• 2015 National Coach of the Year (College Baseball Foundation, NCBWA)
• 2014 Inductee into the American Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame
• 2009 National Coach of the Year (ABCA, Baseball America, Collegiate Baseball, Rivals.com)
• 2008 National Coach of the Year (Rivals.com, College Baseball Insider)
• 2015 and 2009 SEC Coach of the Year
• Five-Time Louisiana Sportswriters Association Coach of the Year
Paul Mainieri's Career Coaching Superlatives Prior to LSU
At Notre Dame
• 2001, 2002 & 2006 ABCA Mideast Region Coach of the Year
• 2001 Big East Coach of the Year
• 2000 National Coach of the Year (College Baseball Insider)
• Nine NCAA tournament appearances in 12 seasons
• 40-plus win seasons in 11 of 12 years
• College World Series Appearance – 2002
• NCAA Regional and Super Regional Championship - 2002
• Five Conference Tournament Championships
• Seven Conference Regular Season Championships
At St. Thomas
• 1984 Sunshine State Conference Coach of the Year
The Paul Mainieri File
Career Record: 1501-774-8 (.659, 39 seasons)
at LSU: 637-282-3 (.693, 15 seasons)
at Notre Dame: 533-213-3 (.714, 12 seasons)
at Air Force: 152-158 (.490, six seasons)
at St. Thomas: 179-121-2 (.598, six seasons)
Birthdate: August 29, 1957 in Morgantown, W. Va.
Hometown: Miami, Fla.
Education: 1980 - B.S. in physical education from Florida International 1982 - M.S. in sports administration from St. Thomas (Fla.)
Wife: the former Karen Fejes of Belle Chasse, La.
Children: Nicholas, Alexandra, Samantha and Thomas
Grandchildren: Holden, Jonathan, Wren and Rocco
LSU Sports Information
By: William Franques
HOOVER, Ala. – Four Georgia pitchers combined to limit LSU to one run on seven hits Tuesday, as the Bulldogs posted a 4-1 win over the Tigers in the first round of the SEC Tournament in Hoover Metropolitan Stadium.
The loss eliminated LSU (34-22) from the tournament, while Georgia (31-23) advanced to face Arkansas at 4:30 p.m. CT Wednesday.
Left-hander Jaden Woods (4-1) earned the win as he entered the game in the fourth inning and worked 3.2 shutout innings, allowing no hits with no walks and five strikeouts.
Reliever Jack Gowen picked up his first save of the season by retiring LSU in order in the top of the ninth inning.
“It's a tough loss for us,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. “I give a lot of credit to Georgia, especially their pitching. They ran three really good left-handers out there against us today, and obviously we couldn't do much with them. We had an opportunity in the first inning, bases loaded, nobody out, and we were only able to get one run out of it. That really was kind of the story of the game.”
LSU starter Landon Marceaux (6-5) was charged with the loss despite recording the first complete game of his collegiate career. Marceaux allowed four runs in the first inning, but then blanked Georgia over the final seven innings of his outing. He fired 97 pitches in eight innings, allowing four runs on nine hits with three walks and nine strikeouts.
“I was really proud of Landon Marceaux,” Mainieri said. “Unfortunately, he pitched his heart out, and we weren’t able to give him the run support. He's pitched like that all year for us, just pitched so courageously and with just a warrior mentality.”
All of the game’s scoring occurred in the first inning -- LSU took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first when first baseman Tre’ Morgan singled, moved to second on a single by rightfielder Dylan Crews, advanced to third when leftfielder Gavin Dugas was hit by a pitch and scored when third baseman Cade Doughty grounded into a double play.
Georgia responded with four runs in the bottom of the first inning, as the outburst was highlighted by a three-run double by leftfielder Chaney Rogers.
By: Terrill J. Weil
Da Boot Sports
BATON ROUGE, LA: LSU will open up the 2021 SEC baseball tournament in Hoover, Alabama against the Georgia Bulldogs.
LSU is the #9 seed at 34-21 (13-17 in SEC) .... The Bulldogs come into the tournament as the 8th seed at 30-23 (13-17 in SEC)..
The game will be on Tuesday, May 25... First pitch scheduled for 4:30pm CT... The contest will be on SEC Network..
RANKINGS: LSU – No. 21 NCAA RPI ...... UGA – No. 41 NCAA RPI
LSU leads the all-time series with Georgia... 68-24-3 ....
LSU Sports Information
By: William Franques
BRYAN-COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Senior right-hander Ma’Khail Hilliard limited Texas A&M to two runs in seven innings Saturday, and LSU smashed three homers in the third inning as the Tigers posted an 8-2 victory over the Aggies at Blue Bell Park.
LSU won its third straight SEC series and its fourth in the past five weekends. The Tigers completed the regular season with a 34-21 overall record, 13-17 in the SEC.
LSU is the No. 9 seed in the SEC Tournament, and the Tigers will face No. 8 seed Georgia at 4:30 p.m. CT on Tuesday in Hoover, Ala.
Texas A&M finished its season with a 29-27 overall record, 9-21 in conference play.
“Texas A&M made a couple of errors that helped us get going,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri, “but the three home runs in one inning was obviously huge. The story of the game was Ma’Khail Hilliard; he went out there and dazzled them again and did a phenomenal job.”
Hilliard (6-0) won his third game in four SEC starts, allowing just two runs on six hits in seven innings with no walks and two strikeouts.
Texas A&M starter Chris Weber (1-3) was charged with the loss, as he surrendered six runs – four earned – on six hits in three innings with one walk and two strikeouts.
The Tigers seized a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning, taking advantage of three errors by the Aggies. First baseman Tre’ Morgan and rightfielder Dylan Crews scored on the Texas A&M miscues.
LSU erupted for four runs in the third inning on three home runs. Leftfielder Gavin Dugas opened the frame with a solo shot, and after third baseman Cade Doughty singled, designated hitter Zach Arnold launched a two-run blast.
Centerfielder Drew Bianco capped the inning with a solo homer, as the Tigers expanded their lead to 6-0.
LSU led 7-2 entering the top of the ninth inning, when the Tigers added a run on Morgan’s RBI double.
Reliever Trent Vietmeier blanked the Aggies over the final two innings, retiring all six batters that he faced.
“I’m so proud of our players, they are giving tremendous effort,” Mainieri said. “They represent our university with a lot of dignity and a lot of class. They compete as hard as they can, and they represent LSU the right way.
“I think we have a realistic chance at an NCAA Tournament bid; we’re going to go to Hoover and let it rip and see what happens.”
LSU DEFEATS AGGIES IN 13 INNINGS, CLINCHES BERTH IN SEC TOURNAMENT; COACH PAUL MAINIERI EARNS 1500TH CAREER WIN
LSU Sports Information
By: William Franques
BRYAN-COLLEGE STATION, Texas – LSU erupted for six runs in the top of the 13th inning Friday night and defeated Texas A&M, 12-6, at Blue Bell Park.
The Tigers clinched a berth in the SEC Tournament with the win and improved to 33-21 overall, 12-17 in the SEC. The Aggies dropped to 29-26 overall and 9-20 in conference play.
LSU’s victory also marked the 1500th career win for coach Paul Mainieri, who became just the fifth coach in NCAA Division I Baseball history to win to win 1500 games and a national championship.
Third baseman Cade Doughty doubled and homered and collected five RBI to lead the Tigers at the plate. Reliever Devin Fontenot (3-2) was credited with the win as he fired three scoreless innings with no hits, one walk and two strikeouts.
LSU relievers Aaron George, Michael Fowler, Ty Floyd, Garrett Edwards and Fontenot combined to blank Texas A&M over the final 11.1 innings of the game.
Texas A&M reliever Chandler Jozwiak (2-4) was charged with the loss, as he surrendered five runs on four hits in 3.2 innings with four walks and four strikeouts.
“It was really an amazing game, and the relief pitching won the game for us,” Mainieri said. “Every game we play with Texas A&M seems to come down to the wire. I’m glad we ended up on top in this one.
“I’m very proud of this team – it hasn’t been an easy season, it’s been a grind, but our players have never given up. That’s a testament to the character of this team; when the chips are down, they still fight their way through obstacles.”
LSU scored all six of its runs in the top of the 13th with two outs in the inning. Pinch hitter Zach Arnold delivered a two-run single to break the 6-6 tie, and the Tigers expanded the lead to 10-6 on Doughty’s two-run double.
Pinch hitter Brody Drost added an RBI single, and the sixth run of the inning scored on a Texas A&M infield error.
After the game, Mainieri reflected on the significance of his 1500th career win. He is only the fifth coach in NCAA Division I Baseball history to win 1500 games and a national championship. The others are Augie Garrido (Cal State Fullerton/Texas), Gene Stephenson (Wichita State), Jim Morris (Miami) and Mark Marquess (Stanford).
“I haven’t won any games,” Mainieri said, “it’s the players that have won the games. I’ve just been blessed for 39 years to be surrounded by an awful lot of great kids, wonderful human beings that have gone out there and played their hearts out.”
LSU Sports Information
By: William Franques
BRYAN-COLLEGE STATION, Texas – First baseman Will Frizzell launched a solo homer in the bottom of the eighth inning Thursday night to lift Texas A&M to a 2-1 win over LSU at Blue Bell Park.
The Aggies improved to 29-25 overall, 9-19 in the SEC, while LSU dropped to 32-21 overall and 11-17 in conference play.
Game 2 of the series is set for 6:30 p.m. CT Friday. The contest will be streamed on SEC Network +, and it can be heard on affiliates of the LSU Sports Radio Network.
Frizzell led off the eighth inning with his 19th homer of the season, breaking a 1-1 tie.
Texas A&M closer Chandler Jozwiak retired LSU in order in the top of the ninth to earn his eighth save of the season.
Texas A&M starter Dustin Saenz (6-6) recorded the win, as he limited the Tigers to one run on two hits in eight innings with two walks and eight strikeouts.
LSU reliever Javen Coleman (2-1) was charged with the loss after allowing just the Frizzell home run in four innings of work. Coleman gave up one run on three hits with one walk and five strikeouts.
Right-hander Landon Marceaux pitched the first four innings for the Tigers, surrendering just one unearned run on three hits with three walks and one strikeout.
"Landon told me that his arm felt fine, but his body was fatigued, and he just didn't have any energy," said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. "I was very concerned about him injuring his arm because he was laboring, so I felt the best thing to do was to take him out of the game. His arm was fine; he just didn't feel like himself tonight."
The Aggies took a 1-0 lead in the third when shortstop Kalae Harrison doubled and scored when centerfielder Ray Alejo's bunt was misplayed by the LSU infield for an error.
The Tigers tied the game in the sixth on a solo homer by rightfielder Dylan Crews, his 13th dinger of the season.
In addition to Marceaux's fatigue, LSU suffered a number of injuries prior to and during the game.
Outfielder Mitchell Sanford sustained a pulled groin during pregame warm-ups; starting centerfielder Giovanni DiGiacomo left the game in the third inning after straining a hamstring; and starting leftfielder Gavin Dugas was taken out of the contest in the fifth inning after a collision in the outfield that caused a rib injury.
"We didn't have many options tonight because of the injuries," Mainieri said. "We battled as hard as we could, but we couldn't get enough hitting tonight, obviously.”
LSU Sports Information
By: William Franques
2021 SEC Baseball Community Service Team Announced
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (May 19, 2021)----- In a continuing effort to recognize the accomplishments of student-athletes beyond the field of competition, the Southeastern Conference has highlighted a Community Service Team for baseball for the 2021 season. The conference names a Community Service Team for each of its 21 league-sponsored sports, looking to highlight an athlete from each school who gives back to his community through superior service efforts.
The 2021 SEC Baseball Community Service Team is as follows:
LSU – Matthew Beck, Gr., RHP, Alexandria, La.
Matthew Beck has been named to the SEC Community Service Team for the second straight year. He is two-time member of the SEC Academic Honor Roll, and he was presented in February 2020 with the Shriners Hospitals for Children Service Award for his philanthropic activity. Beck has earned a bachelor's degree in finance and a master's degree in business administration from LSU. He has been active in flood relief efforts in the Baton Rouge and Lake Charles metro areas, assisting residents in the clean-up of their homes and neighborhoods. His other community service activities include: worked as a volunteer for Boys Hope Girls Hope, an organization in Baton Rouge that helps at-risk children to meet their full potential by providing value-centered, family-like homes, opportunities and education; participates in LSU’s annual Halloween Boo-zar, where student-athletes distribute candy to children in the Baton Rouge community; engaged in Thanksgiving with the Tigers, a program in which LSU student-athletes deliver food to families in need.
Alabama – Peyton Wilson, So., UTL, Hoover, Ala.
Wilson recorded 15 total hours of community service during his first season at UA in 2019-20, the most by any member of the Crimson Tide baseball team. He took part in 11 total volunteer opportunities, committing his most significant chunk of time to the Alberta Head Start program, working with and mentoring children from low-income families across Tuscaloosa. He added time at The Miracle League of Tuscaloosa, the Salvation Army and numerous local elementary schools. Wilson also contributed his volunteer efforts to on-campus events including the University's 'Thank-a-Thon' and Halloween Extravaganza. The sophomore was unable to take part in the University's limited volunteer opportunities this past year due to the pandemic and current COVID protocols around the city.
Arkansas – Jacob Nesbit, Jr., INF, Coppell, Texas
Jacob Nesbit has been actively involved in the Fayetteville community during his time as a Razorback. Despite the pandemic limiting opportunities to participate in service projects, he was involved with Team Impact and supported Arkansas' inaugural Childhood Cancer Awareness game against Arkansas State. He, along with teammates Cullen Smith and Braydon Webb, joined Joshua Ortiz, an eight-year-old battling leukemia, on the field for the ceremonial first pitch.
Auburn – Ryan Bliss, Jr., INF, LaGrange, Ga.
Bliss’ efforts in the community have been highlighted by participating in World Read Aloud Day at local elementary schools the last three years, including virtually during COVID-19. He has volunteered with Samaritan's Purse to help clean up the damage done by the tornado that devastated East Alabama in March 2019. Additionally, he visited and uplifted patients at Children's of Alabama and participated in a baseball day camp for the Miracle League of East Alabama. In collaboration with the Hudson Family Foundation, Bliss recorded a congratulatory and encouraging video for students from Auburn City Schools, Opelika City Schools and Lee County School being inducted in the Legends Club. He has also helped the Jason Dufner Foundation stuff backpacks to be distributed to the less fortunate around the holidays.
Florida – Tommy Mace, Jr., RHP, Tampa, Fla.
Mace’s community service activities include: served as a mentor and volunteer at Littlewood Elementary; during his assigned class periods, Mace helped students complete their assignments and encouraged them to do their best; through his volunteerism, Mace built a strong relationship with the students in the class; participated in the Climb for Cancer Sports Camp, an annual event that brings children who have had cancer to our practice facility to have a day of sports; group leader and helped adapt drills to each child’s needs; has contributed 22.5 official hours of outreach to the above causes alone.
Georgia – Riley King, INF/OF, Sr., Lawrenceville, Ga.
King is a team captain who graduated in December of 2020 and returned for final season in 2021. He plans to pursue medical school once baseball career is over (was drafted by Atlanta Braves in 2019). He is a four-year member of the SEC Academic Honor Roll. King is one of the baseball reps on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee who helped organize community service efforts. His community service activities include: spearheaded efforts of team in Dawgs for Pups initiatives to help out community with Wifi Drive, Food2Kids Snack Drive, Coat Drive, #DawgsToThePolls voter-education series; started "G Series" on Instagram Live to discuss social justice issues with teammates and fans.
Kentucky – Alex Degen, Jr., P, Readington Township, N.J.
Degen is a two-time SEC Academic Honor Roll member. He has completed more than 135 hours of community service while at Kentucky. He is deeply involved with the Ronald McDonald House, where he has served dinner, cleaned residents’ rooms, washed dishes and more. The social work major also has served at a local elementary school as a mentor for children with difficult home situations and who were showing signs of falling behind in school, as well as with God’s Pantry.
Ole Miss – Tim Elko, Sr., IF/OF, Lutz, Fla.
Tim Elko has served as a team captain in 2021 and 2021 and is a member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and a three-time member of the SEC Academic Honor Roll. He was named to the 2020 SEC Community Service Team. His community service activities include: Fellowship of Christian Athletes; Adopt-A-Basket- the athletics department donated over 90 Thanksgiving baskets in Fall 2020 to families in need throughout the Lafayette-Oxford-University Community (LOU); Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital Virtual Visits- Virtually visited with youth patients at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital; virtual Classroom Drop-Ins- Surprised various LOU classrooms with a virtual reading session; Reading with the Rebels- Recorded reading videos to distribute to local elementary schools; helped assemble over 500 backpacks filled with non-perishable food items to donate to children in Tunica County and Quitman County for the Feed The Sip initiative; A Night To Shine- celebrated 125 guests with special needs during an unforgettable prom night; Unified Egg Bowl- Cheered on the Ole Miss Special Olympics team during the Annual Unified Egg Bowl vs Mississippi State’s Special Olympics Team; Bats and Balls Clinic - Taught baseball basics to children in the Oxford/Lafayette community.
Mississippi State – Stone Simmons, So., P, Houston, Texas
Simmons’ community service activities include: participant in the Starkville Auxiliary Reading Railroad to recorded book readings for children to use during the COVID-19 quarantine; participated in the Children’s Hospital video where the student-athletes recorded videos of themselves sending encouraging and positive messages to lift the spirits of the patients.
Missouri – Mark Vierling, Sr., INF, St. Louis, Mo.
Mark Vierling leads the team with 55 community service hours during his career. He has been involved with nine different service projects. His community service activities include: volunteered 12.5 hours with local food bank and another two service days with Tiger Food for Friends/Food Recovery Network; accumulated 12 service hours in the 2020 calendar year despite pandemic restrictions.
South Carolina – Cam Tringali, Jr., P, Columbia, S.C.
Cam Tringali was named to the 2019-20 SEC Spring Honor Roll and the SEC Community Service Team in 2020 and the 2018-19 SEC Spring Academic Honor Roll. His community service activities include: donated school supplies to the Backpack Project for WG Sanders Middle School; wrote Christmas Cards for the local children's hospital in Columbia; has helped in the past with the Ray Tanner Run and the Week of Giving at Heathwood Hall in his hometown; has helped host the Screaming Eagles from Chapin, SC at Founders Park.
Tennessee – Redmond Walsh, Sr., P, Louisville, Tenn.
On top of being one of Tennessee's most valuable relief pitchers this season and throughout his career, Redmond Walsh has also been one of the team's most active players when it comes to community service. The redshirt senior has participated in numerous community service events and volunteered his time with multiple organizations around Knoxville such as the Knoxville Challenger League, a local baseball league for young people with special needs. Walsh has also volunteered at the East Tennessee Children's Hospital and Tennessee's annual VOLoween event, which serves as a night of Halloween fun for the children of athletic department staff to interact with UT student-athletes.
Texas A&M – Alex Magers, So., P, D’Hanis, Texas
Alex Magers’ community service activities include: led the Aggies with nearly $2,500 raised in their annual Vs. Cancer campaign to raise money to fight pediatric cancer; ranked second on the team in money raised for Vs. Cancer in 2020 with $2,200, for a two year total of $4,600; active in the D'Hanis Rotary Club where his work includes, assisting with local can drives and volunteering at local food pantry; assisted with annual local D'Hanis Big Event doing community service house and landscaping projects in the neighborhood.
Vanderbilt – Will Duff, So, UTL, Springfield, Mo.
Since arriving at Vanderbilt, Will Duff has been an active member in the Nashville and state of Tennessee community. This past year, Duff was heavily involved in Vanderbilt's Dancing Dores, a program that is made up of student-athletes participating in Vanderbilt University Dance Marathon. The program enables teammates to build relationships with local children and families served at Children's Hospital, all while fundraising on their behalf. Duff assisted the Commodore baseball team in raising over $4,000 this year in the Dancing Dores program. The Springfield, Missouri, native also participated in various virtual school reading opportunities with local schools and hospitals since the summer.
LSU Sports Information
By: William Franques
BATON ROUGE, La. – Five Northwestern State pitchers limited LSU to five hits Tuesday, as the Demons posted a 7-3 win over the Tigers in Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field.
The loss was LSU’s first in a midweek non-conference game this season. The Tigers completed the nonconference portion of their regular-season schedule with a 12-1 midweek record.
LSU is 32-20 overall, while Northwestern State improved to 27-24.
The Tigers return to action at 6 p.m. CT Thursday when the Tigers open a three-game SEC series at Texas A&M in Bryan-College Station, Texas. The series will conclude the Tigers’ 2021 regular-season schedule.
Thursday’s game will be televised on ESPNU. All three games will be streamed on SEC Network +, and they can be heard on affiliates of the LSU Sports Radio Network.
Right-hander Ethan Francis (1-0), the first of five Northwestern State pitchers, was credited with the win on Tuesday, as he worked two shutout innings with one hit and two walks.
Reliever Drayton Brown earned his sixth save of the year for the Demons, allowing no hits in two shutout innings with three strikeouts.
“It didn’t appear to me that we were mentally ready to play today, and I take full responsibility for that,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. “We didn’t perform at the high level that we needed to in order to win this game. Northwestern State played very inspired baseball, they deserved to win, and you have to give them credit. This was very uncharacteristic of us, because we’ve played so well all year in the middle of the week.”
LSU starting pitcher Will Hellmers (6-2) was charged with the loss, as he gave up one run on two hits in two innings with one walk and two strikeouts.
Centerfielder Larson Fontenot led the Demons’ 12-hit output by going 4-for-5 at the plate with one RBI and two runs scored. Rightfielder Tyler Smith and designated hitter Jeffrey Elkins each drove in two runs for Northwestern.
Elkins’ solo homer in the top of the second inning broke a 0-0 tie and gave the Demons a lead they would not relinquish.
Northwestern State led 6-0 in the bottom of the seventh when the Tigers staged a three-run rally highlighted by rightfielder Dylan Crews’ two-run triple.
However, Brown prevented LSU from narrowing the gap further, and the Demons added an insurance run in the ninth on an RBI single by first baseman Peyton Davis.
“Now what we have to do is put it behind us and get ready for a big series at Texas A&M,” Mainieri said. “We’ve got a job to do this weekend; we know Texas A&M is going to play us really tough, and we’ll have to play really well. Our kids will play with confidence and, hopefully, we can get a win on Thursday night and then turn our attention to the next day.”
LSU Sports Information
By: William Franques
BATON ROUGE, La. – Senior right-hander Ma’Khail Hilliard earned his fifth win in five decisions Sunday, and centerfielder Giovanni DiGiacomo homered twice to lead LSU to a 13-5 win over Alabama in Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field.
LSU, which clinched an SEC series victory over the Crimson Tide, is 32-19 overall and 11-16 in conference play. Alabama dropped to 29-19 overall and 12-14 in league games.
The Tigers return to action at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday when the play host to Northwestern State in Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field. The game will be streamed on SEC Network +, and it can be heard on affiliates of the LSU Sports Radio Network.
Hilliard (5-0) limited Alabama to three runs on four hits through the first five innings with one walk and seven strikeouts, firing 68 pitches. He struck out five of the first six Crimson Tide batters he faced.
DiGiacomo hit his first two home runs of the season and finished 3-for-4 with four RBI and two runs scored. First baseman Tre’ Morgan and rightfielder Dylan Crews each collected three hits, and third baseman Cade Doughty and second baseman Drew Bianco homered to highlight LSU’s 16-hit outburst.
“I thought it was one of our best all-around efforts of the year, starting with Ma’Khail on the mound,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. “As a senior in his last home appearance, he went out there and gave us five really solid innings and set the tone for the game.
“Our offense set the tone of the game right out of the gate, and we never really stopped hitting the whole day.”
Alabama starter Connor Prielipp (1-1) was charged with the loss as he pitched one inning and gave up two runs on three hits with no walks and three strikeouts.
LSU grabbed a 2-0 lead in the first inning when Crews doubled and scored on Doughty’s two-run blast, his 11th homer of the season.
The Tigers extended the lead to 5-0 in the second when Bianco launched a solo homer and Crews and leftfielder Gavin Dugas each provided RBI doubles.
After Alabama narrowed the gap to 5-2 in the top of the third, LSU responded in the bottom of the frame with a three-run homer by DiGiacomo, his first dinger of the season.
Morgan’s RBI groundout gave LSU a 9-3 advantage in the fifth, and the Tigers’ lead ballooned to 12-4 in the seventh when Crews delivered an RBI single and pinch hitter Mitchell Sanford slapped a two-run single.
DiGiacomo’s solo homer in the eighth accounted for the final margin.
“Our whole team just played great today,” Mainieri said. “I’m so proud of them; all year, when we’ve had a tough loss, these kids have come back the next day and played extremely well. They earned a great victory today and because of that, we’re still in the hunt for the postseason.”
Photos Below By: Michael Bacigalupi
By: Michael Lanclos
Da Boot Sports
BATON ROUGE, LA: LSU would fight hard to the end, but the Tide found a way to hang on to a 6-5 victory over the Tigers. With the win, Alabama improves to 30-18, 12-13 in SEC play, while LSU drops to 31-19 and 10-16 in SEC play.
AJ Labas would get things started on the mound in the bottom of the 1st taking down the Bama hitters in order, three up and three down.
LSU would strike first as Dylan Crews and Gavin Dugas would launch back to back solo home runs to give the Tigers a 2-0 lead. Cade Doughty then hit a single up the middle before advancing to second base on a ground out from Cade Beloso. Alabama pitcher Dylan Smith would rebound and get a strikeout to end the LSU threat.
Alabama would answer in the 2nd inning as Sam Praytor would send a home run over the left field wall. Labas would rebound sitting down the next three Tide hitters to get out of the top of the frame with LSU now up 2-1.
In the bottom of the 2nd Drew Bianco and Alex Milazzo would draw back to back walks to reach base. Dylan Crews would then lace a two out single up the middle to score Bianco, increasing the LSU lead to 3-1.
In the 3rd, Alabama would plate two more runs to tie things up, 3-3, as they would get to Labas, hitting four singles to cause the damage.
The Tigers would mount a threat in the bottom of the inning, as Beloso and DiGiacomo each managed to single, but Bama pitcher Dylan Smith would record the final out to strand them both on base.
Jackson Tate would leadoff the 4th inning with a single through the left side of the field, then quickly steal second base
safely. Caden Rose would then slice a double just inside the first base line into the right field corner, scoring Tate. Bryce Eblin stepped up to the plate and also hit a double allowing Rose to score giving the Tide a 5-3 lead.
The Tigers would go quietly in the 4th inning, stranding a runner on 1st base.
Javen Coleman would replace Labas on the mound in the 5th giving up a leadoff homerun to Zane Denton as Bama would increase their lead to 6-3.
Bama pitcher Connor Shamblin would enter the game taking care of the LSU batters quietly as they each would ground out to end the inning.
Both teams would go scoreless until the bottom of the 9th, with Alabama still leading 6-3. LSU would get a single from Tre Morgan who then advanced to 2nd base safely. Gavin Dugas would then drill a two out, two Run, Home Run to left center to make it a 6-5 game. But that would be all for the Tigers as they would hit into a long pop fly to end the ball game.
“We came out so well and hit two home runs in the first inning and had a 3-1 lead in the second inning with a chance to add to it,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. “But their starting pitcher (Dylan Smith) settled in against us and got into a groove. We had a couple of opportunities and some hard-hit balls, but when we did hit them hard, they were right at people. “Our offense just went kind of stale as the game progressed, and their offense was able to take advantage of its scoring opportunities.”
AJ Labas falls to 3-2 with the loss....
LSU is now 31-19 (10-16) as they head into Sunday's rubber game to decide the series winner. First pitch is scheduled for 2:00pm at Alex Box Stadium
By: Terrill J. Weil
Da Boot Sports
BATON ROUGE, LA: The Tigers come into this weekend's SEC series with Alabama with a 30-18 overall/9-15 in the SEC. With hopes of still being able to host a NCAA regional, LSU must keep winning, and on Friday night that's exactly what they did beating Alabama 2-1.
Landon Marceaux once again was incredible on the mound going 6.1 innings, giving up no runs on 11 scattered hits with six strikeouts and only issuing one base on balls.
Devin Fontenot would earn the save, going 2.2 innings, giving up one run on two hits, with three strikeouts and one base on balls..
The Tigers would strike first in the bottom of the 1st inning. Tre' Morgan would leadoff with a double down the left field line, followed by a single by Dylan Crews, advancing Morgan to third base.
Gavin Dugas would then hit a sacrifice fly to left field scoring Morgan. The one run would be all the Tigers could manage,
taking a 1-0 lead into the 2nd inning.
The contest would remain scoreless until the Tigers were able to push another run across home plate in the bottom of 7th. Cade Beloso would get things started with a two out walk to get on base.
Drew Bianco would then step up and hit a double down the left field line. As Beloso advanced to third, a throwing error would allow him to head home safely. LSU took a 2-0 lead into the 8th inning.
Fontenot would give up a two out single in the top of the 8th, followed by a triple to right center by Jim Jarvis, scoring David Heller from first base. Fontenot would strike out Peyton Wilson looking for the final out, sending us to the 9th inning with the score now LSU 2, Alabama 1.
Fontenot would quickly get the first two Crimson Tide hitters to line and fly out. After issuing a two out walk, Fontenot would strike out Owen Diodati for the final out to seal the 2-1 victory.
“Landon Marceaux just kept working out of jams all night,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. “He’s done this all year; he’s pitched in the clutch and made some extraordinarily big pitches when it mattered the most. You have to give Alabama credit – they put the bat on the ball a lot. “They just kept putting balls in play, but Landon just kept making big pitches and we made some big defensive plays. And, Fontenot was amazing tonight in relief of Marceaux. He really rose up and made huge pitches for us when he had to.”
Alabama would leave 13 players on base as LSU would get solid play from the defense all night on top of the strong pitching performances from Marceaux and Fontenot.
The Tigers are now 31-18 on the season, while improving to 10-15 in the conference. Landon Marceaux improves to 6-4 with the win, with Devin Fontenot earning his 4th save on the season.
Alabama falls to 28-18 overall and 11-13 in SEC play....
LSU will host game two on Saturday afternoon at Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field beginning at 2pm. The game will be televised on SEC Network.
By: Jordan Taylor
Da Boot Sports
BATON ROUGE, LA: Heading into a much anticipated rematch between the Tigers and #16 ranked Bulldogs in a huge midweek contest that would be in major concerns due to weather.
Officials would make a late afternoon decision to move the start time up to a 5:00PM first pitch with bad weather reported to move in late.
Last meeting between these two teams was back in February when LSU's bats would catch fire for a huge win, 16-7.
Heading into Tuesday's game would be a completely different story as LSU has struggled at times this season and LA Tech is considered one of the better teams in the nation.
LSU comes in with a record of 29-18 while Louisiana Tech comes in with a impressive 33-12 record.
The All-time series between the teams is owned by the Tigers, 44-19. LSU has won the last 14 of 15 meetings.
The Tigers are heading into a huge week considering their playing for their tournament lives as #14 comes into town on Tuesday with Alabama looming in the distance for the final home SEC series of the year.
Will Helmers would get the nod on the mound Tuesday after not seeing any action over the weekend in Auburn.
Below is our recap of Tuesday's game between the Bulldogs and Tigers.
LA Tech's veteran line up would get off to a fast start as they would load the bases after a couple singles and a walk. LSU would get a much needed double play ground ball, but we would see the first score of the game during the play. LSU would eventually get out of the inning but another run would cross the plate before then on a passed ball.
LSU would get a runner aboard after a one out walk but the next hitter would ground into a ending inning double play. We would head to the 2nd inning with the Bulldogs leading, 2-0.
Will Helmers returned for his second inning of work and would have base runners reach early. He wouldn't receive much help from his defense as they could of got out the inning with a couple of ground balls hit, but two fielding errors would result in another Bulldogs run. 3-0 Tech....
Paul Mainieri would have starters on short leash after errors, passed balls, and a poor lack of effort early on. Zach Arnold would drive one of the wall for a stand up double. Sanford would step up next, coming off the bench and would reach on a base on balls.
LSU would have a golden opportunity to cut into the lead with Cade Beloso standing at the plate. But Beloso would fail to cash in hitting a fly out to right field.
LA Tech would score another run after beginning the inning with back to back doubles. increasing their lead to 4-0. Jacob Hasty would finally settle down getting the next three hitters out in order to end the scoring threat.
Trailing by four the Tigers would finally get things going. After getting a couple runners aboard from a hit batter and a single. LSU would finally get on the scoreboard with a RBI single by Gavin Dugas. LSU would load the bases after Cade Doughty walked, then Arnold would step up to the plate and cash in with a two RBI double to right field. Doughty would be gunned down at the plate for the final out of the inning. But the Tigers had cut into Tech's lead, 4-3.
The Bulldogs would add to their lead as Jorge Corona would hit a leadoff towering homerun into the night. Tech would add another run to their after LSU would continue to struggle in the infield after another fielding error would cost LSU another run, putting the Bulldogs ahead, 6-3.
LSU would finally explode in the bottom of the 4th platting five runs to grab the lead, 8-6. The Tigers would score four of those RBI's on five singles, while the final run would score after Arnold would get hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.
The Bulldogs would manage to load the bases with two outs. Taylor Young would drive a single to center field to plate two more runs for Tech before the Tigers could get out of the inning. We would head to the bottom of the inning all even at 8-8.
LSU would get things rolling with a leadoff double from Beloso, followed by Drew Bianco beating out the throw on a bunt. With runners on the corners, Morgan would give LSU the lead with an infield single. as Beloso crossed the plate.
Dylan Crews would reach safely on a fielding error, loading the bases with no outs. Another run would score after Dugas would get on by a hit pitch.
Doughty would end up on first after a fielder's choice, scoring Morgan from third, and putting runners at the corners with only one out. Tech pitcher Kyle Crigger would record the final two outs, stranding two LSU runners on base. But the Tigers would have an inning, taking a 11-8 lead.
Blake Money would enter the contest to pitch for the Tigers and would keep the Bulldogs to their first scoreless inning of the game, facing only four Tech hitters in the frame.
LSU would add another run to their lead when Tre' Morgan would come through with a two out, RBI single with Beloso on second. The inning would end on the play though after the score with Morgan being tagged out on a poor base running decision.
We would head to the 7th with LSU up, 12-8.
Mainieri would go to the bullpen sending in Trent Vietmeier to the mound to face the Tech hitters. After retiring the first two Bulldog hitters, Vietmeier would give up a double, followed by a fielding error that would put runners on the corners.
Hunter Wells would foul out to Cade Doughty to end the top of the inning.
LSU would separate from Tech in a big fashion with an explosive trip to the plate. With Crews and Dugas on first and second. Arnold would hit a one out single to left field scoring Crews. Dugas would then advance to third on a Mitchell Sanford fly out to center field.
Doughty would then hit a two RBI triple to left field. Beloso stepped to the plate next and came through with a two out double that would score Doughty from third.
With the score now 16-8, a lightning strike would halt play. Both teams would clear the field and the tarp would quickly come onto the field. It wouldn't take long for a decision to be made to call the game due to server weather in the area.
LA Tech 8
LSU moves to 30-18 on the season after an impressive win over a ranked opponent would was battling for a home Regional opportunity.
Michael Fowler earns the win to improving his record to 1-0 on the season.
LSU's offense caught fire midway through the game as they would score in every inning after the 1st & 2nd.
The Tigers manage 17 hits, coming through with several timely hits with runners in scoring position, making a huge difference in the game.
With a post season birth on the line LSU would make a huge statement on Tuesday by knocking off a top 15 team, while playing the toughest schedule in the Nation. The Tigers have also finished the season going undefeated in mid-week games.
-Tre Morgan 4-5 2 RBI
-Zach Arnold 3-4 4 RBI
-Dylan Crews 2-4 1 RBI
-Gavin Dugas 2-3 3 RBI
-Cade Beloso 3-5 1 RBI
-Michael Fowler (1-0)
Next up for the Tigers will be the final SEC series at home when they welcome the Crimson Tide of Alabama for a huge three game series beginning on Friday night at 7pm in front of the Alex Box faithful.
LSU will be 30-18 (9-15) taking on Alabama 28-17 (11-12).
Photos Below By: Michael Bacigalupi
ESPN Presents: "Hold The Rope" Documents the Rise of LSU Baseball under Legendary Coach Skip Bertman
LSU Sports Information
By: William Franques
SEC Storied Film “Hold the Rope” Chronicles LSU Baseball’s Climb, Courtesy of Coaching Legend Skip Bertman
The next documentary in the SEC Storied series is “Hold the Rope,” the story of legendary LSU baseball head coach Skip Bertman and his quest to turn the Bayou Bengals into a perennial power. The hour-long film debuts on Monday, May 24 at 7 p.m. ET on SEC Network.
When Bertman arrived in Baton Rouge in the summer of 1983, LSU baseball was considered an afterthought. The Tigers were lucky to draw 500 fans per game to aging Alex Box Stadium, a relic of the 1930s. As for the team on the field, it was mired in mediocrity and hadn’t reached the postseason since 1975.
From those beginnings, Bertman turned the program into a powerhouse, winning five national championships from 1991-2000. A new stadium, with the field named after him, stands 200 yards away from where the Tiger baseball dynasty was born, and more than 10,000 fans a game come out to make LSU the NCAA leader in attendance every year for the past two decades. “Hold the Rope” focuses on Bertman’s overhaul of the LSU program inside and out, culminating in the Tigers’ first College World Series title in 1991.
As part of the rebuild, Bertman and assistant coach Raymond “Smoke” Laval came up with “The Big 60,” a list of five dozen things that needed to be done to turn the program around. That list, fully crossed out and laminated, was used as a motivation tool throughout Bertman’s tenure. The changes ranged from the type of dirt on the field to the lights in the parking lot. A team that was used to having the day off for Mardi Gras in the bayou now had a two-mile run at 6 o’clock in the morning, and would paint the stadium when they weren’t having four-hour practices.
Bertman was also a master at visualization techniques – from seeing the hit coming in the next at-bat to picturing the skylines of Omaha and Rosenblatt Stadium in June. “Hold the Rope” was a consistent team motto that encapsulated the trust and unity that Bertman instilled in the teams he coached.
The film, directed by award-winning filmmaker Marc Kinderman, features interviews with Bertman and his wife Sandy, LSU Athletics Hall of Famers Ben McDonald, Todd Walker and Jason Williams, Miami Sports Hall of Famers Doug Shields and Danny Smith, as well as current LSU head baseball coach Paul Mainieri, NCAA President and former LSU Chancellor Mark Emmert, and former Wichita State head coach Gene Stephenson, who had epic College World Series battles with Bertman and the Bayou Bengals.
“Skip Bertman was much more than a coach, he really was an impresario of college baseball in taking both LSU and the sport to new heights on and off the field,” said Kinderman. “In going back through the teams he coached, I saw so much of the love and respect his players had for Skip. Whether it was Miami Beach High, the University of Miami or LSU, it was easy to see how much Skip means to his former players.
“I learned a lot about Skip's attention to detail in the instruction manual he gave to each player,” Kinderman continued. “Exactly what to do, to the letter, both at the plate and in the field - and how to carry yourself as an LSU Tiger - that manual helped so much in getting insight into who Skip was as a person.”
For more than two decades, Kinderman has been telling stories for ESPN and others in and out of the sports world. Kinderman began his career at ESPN after college graduation cutting highlights for SportsCenter before producing features for the show. He then moved on to producing episodes of the Emmy and Peabody Award-winning SportsCentury project in the late 1990s and early 2000s, before producing shows for ESPN Original Entertainment over the course of a decade. His last project for ESPN prior to “Hold The Rope” was a 2016 30 for 30 short on LSU’s Rudy Macklin, No Kin to Me, which was then expanded into a half-hour SEC Storied for SEC Network in 2019. The co-creator of Orange Lion Productions in 2000, Kinderman has worked on projects for A&E, CNBC, Versus, USA Today/Mojo, NHL Network and Big Ten Network. Orange Lion also produced ESPN's 40, a series of first-person stories on ESPN's history, in 2019.
SEC Network’s signature coverage of SEC baseball continues following the debut of “Hold the Rope.” The SEC Baseball Tournament will have a homecoming in Hoover, Ala. beginning Tuesday, May 25, with first pitch through the semifinals live on SEC Network, as well as live, on-site analysis and reporting with SEC Now. The championship game will be televised live on ESPN2 at 3 p.m.