A rainy day in the Capitol City suddenly gave way to a clear, gorgeous Saturday night at Alex Box Stadium, bringing fans who’d spent the afternoon dodging raindrops out of their homes and into the ballpark.
Turns out, the LSU baseball team probably could have used a rainout.
The Tigers looked flatter than the weekend forecast in their 6-3 loss to Vanderbilt, the kind of performance you may have expected were this a random Tuesday or Wednesday in the middle of the season.
This happened to be in Game 2 of LSU’s final regular-season home series. This happened to be hours after Georgia upset South Carolina in extra innings — leaving the door open for Paul Mainieri’s team to grab the outright Southeastern Conference lead.
This happened to be on the night when LSU honored its five seniors, including two four-year starters, with a ceremony on the infield before the first pitch.
Had the Tigers beaten Vanderbilt to clinch the three-game series, they would have become the fastest LSU team to reach 40 wins since the 1997 juggernaut led by Brandon Larson and Eddy Furniss started 40-8 en route to a 57-13 finish. That will have to wait for another day.
So will LSU’s shot at standing alone ahead of South Carolina, as the Tigers — who Friday wrapped up the West Division crown — fell half a game back for the overall lead after failing to take advantage of Georgia’s help.
The Tigers entered with a 24-0 mark in home night games, but not even having the lights on at the Box made a difference Saturday night.
LSU’s offense was all out of sorts, getting its only run through seven innings when senior catcher Jordy Snikeris (subbing for sophomore Ty Ross, who had an emergency appendectomy Saturday) legged out an infield single to score Austin Nola from third with two outs in the sixth.
The Tigers hit into three double plays and ran into a fourth. They stranded nine runners — six in scoring position.
Cleanup hitter Raph Rhymes went 0-for-4, seeing his average dip to below .490 — the lowest it has been in weeks — on a night when he struck out for only the 11th time all season and grounded into a pair of 6-4-3 double plays.
LSU struggled just as much keeping Vanderbilt’s active offense under wraps.
The Commodores swiped five bases against Snikeris. They also advanced twice on wild pitches and once on a Brent Bonvillain balk.
LSU fell behind as much as 6-1 before Tyler Moore came through with a two-run single with two outs in the eighth, the most significant life the Tigers showed all night. But senior Tyler Hanover’s groundout with two on brought the inning to a close.
Senior Night at the Box was over soon enough.
The good news for the Tigers is they knew they’d be right back Sunday with another chance to win their seventh series of the SEC season. They knew the sun would shine again.