Tennessee Moves On To Omaha With A 15-6 Victory Over LSU In Super Regional.. The LSU Season and Paul Mainieri Era Comes To An End
By: Terrill J. Weil
Da Boot Sports!
KNOXVILLE, TN: LSU is looking at a must win situation on Sunday afternoon in Knoxville to keep their College World Series hopes alive after Saturday night's Super Regional game one heartbreaking 4-2 loss to the Vols.
Game two wouldn't be as close, as the Volunteers took advantage of Lance Marceaux being pulled from the game after only three innings of work, punishing and embarrassing the LSU bullpen with a 15-6 victory, punching their ticket to Omaha.
After playing solid baseball in the Regional last weekend, the Tigers would revert to their regular season ways. All season LSU would only be as good as their starting pitcher would last, as a nightmarish bullpen and infield throwing errors would cause things to go down hill quickly.
Once again, I feel that Paul Mainieri would pull his starting pitcher from the ballgame too early.. To gamble in a "must
win" situation on a very shaky bullpen is a poor decision, especially while your starter is still performing well enough to continue on.
The Volunteers would strike first in the ballgame as Liam Spence would leadoff the game by reaching first base safely on a throwing error by Jordan Thompson. Spence would then advance to second base on a sacrifice bunt by Max Ferguson.
Jake Rucker would then step to the plate and blast a two run homer over the left center field wall to give the Vols a 2-0 lead.
Dylan Crews would answer for the Tigers with a leadoff solo homer run to cut the Tennessee lead in half as we would head to the 2nd inning with the score, 2-1 Vols.
Jake Rucker again would step to the plate and greet Landon Marceaux rudely with another home run. This time a one out solo shot over the right field wall to extend the Volunteers lead to 3-1 after two and a half innings.
Dylan Crews would answer the Rucker homerun like earlier in the contest as he would launch a deep blast over the left field wall to pull the Tigers to within 3-2 at the end of the 3rd inning.
Tennessee would increase their lead in the top of the 4th. With a runner on 1st with one out, Volunteer catcher Connor Pavolony would rocket a two run homer to deep center field to put the Vols up 5-2.
Once again, it would begin to look like Paul Mainieri may have gone to the bullpen a little to quickly as both Garrett Edwards in the 4th and then Will Hellmers in the 5th would struggle against the red hot Tennessee hitters.
Drew Gilbert would leadoff the 5th with a solo homer to right field off of Hellmers, followed by a double to right center.
Gilbert would advance to third on a wild pitch.
Hellmers would then walk Lipcius, putting runners on the corners with no outs for Jordan Beck. Beck would finish off any hope for a victory with a three run homer to left field, extending the Tennessee lead to 9-2.
The home run would chase Hellmers as Trent Vietmeier would replace him on the mound. Vietmeier could fair no better against the Volunteers lineup as he would start by hitting Pete Derkay.
Pavolony would reach safely on a fielder's choice, while Derkay would advance to third on a throwing error. Liam Spence would ground out to first base, scoring Derkay and advancing Pavolony to second base.
Vietmeier would then hit Ferguson with a pitch to put runners on first and second with only one out. Rucker would then single to right field, scoring Pavolony and advancing Freguson to third base. With the score now 11-2 Volunteers with still only one out in the inning, Mainieri would go to the bullpen again replacing Vietmeier with Jacob Hasty.
Hasty would quickly register the final two outs of the top of the 5th inning to stop the bleeding.
LSU would chip away at the large Tennessee lead with a two run homer by Tre' Morgan in the 6th inning and then a two run shot by Brody Drost in the bottom of the 7th, to cut the Volunteers' lead to 11-6 as we would head to the 8th...
Tennessee would continue to make any hopes of a possible LSU comeback difficult as Evan Russell would launch a two run home run in the top of the 8th inning off of AJ Labas to increase the lead to 13-6.
The Vols would add the exclamation point on their win in the top of the 9th as they continued to pad their lead by plating two more runs...
“We felt good going into the game,” Mainieri said. “Landon has so much courage and guts, and he was unbelievable in pitching twice in the regional last weekend, but I could tell early on he didn’t have his usual stuff. His slider didn’t have the kind of bite that it normally does and his velocity was down. It just shows you what kind of competitor he is, he gritted his teeth and battled through three innings.”
“Our kids battled like crazy all year,” Mainieri said. “We were counted out a lot of times during the course of this year, and our guys never gave up. They’re a resilient bunch, and I love them. I’ll always remember them, they’re my last team. I don’t want people to be sad for me, I’m the luckiest guy in the world. Thirty-nine years of being able to live out a childhood dream of being a college baseball coach. I got to do what I wanted to do with my life, who could ask for more?”
So the Paul Mainieri era comes to an end as the Tigers finish the 2021 season with a 38-25 overall record and a trip to a Super Regional. All of us here at Da Boot Sports want to thank Coach Mainieri on a wonderful head coaching career and for doing such a great job here in Baton Rouge... THANK YOU for the awesome memories!
Paul Mainieri completed his 39-season career with a 1,505-777-8 record, including a 641-285-3 mark in 15 seasons at LSU.
It's now time to turn the page to start a new chapter in LSU baseball history. The coaching search will continue and we have all the confidence in the world that Scott Woodward will hire the right person for the job. Whoever that may be will have a young and talented team to work with. Look for LSU to return to a Super Regional and beyond in 2022.