COLUMBIA, S.C. — LSU’s schedule in the upcoming Southeastern Conference baseball tournament became much clearer after the Tigers became outright overall conference champions and grabbed the No. 1 seed Saturday.
LSU has a first-round bye and will be off Tuesday as the other four teams in its bracket play. Kentucky will play Ole Miss and Arkansas will play Mississippi State. The lower-seeded of the two winners of those games will be the Tigers’ opponent in the second game Wednesday in Hoover, Ala.
That game will be played in the early afternoon, and the exact start time will depend on the duration of the first game.
The Tigers are about to reap the rewards of a 42-14 regular-season record, which includes a 19-11 SEC mark.
“Fifty-six games is a real grind,” Tigers coach Paul Mainieri said after a 3-2, 10-inning victory against South Carolina on Saturday. “Thirty conference games is a real grind Now, it’s time to enjoy. Now, we get to go into the postseason. To me, the postseason is a fun time.
“You go through the grind of a long year to put yourself in a position to do something special to make your season one to be remembered. So that’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to rest for a day, go back to work on Monday and enjoy the postseason.”
Catching depth challenged
LSU catcher Jordy Snikeris was not in the lineup for a second consecutive game Saturday because of a contusion on the index finger of his throwing hand. Snikeris injured the finger when it was hit by the baseball on a foul tip in the bottom of the ninth of the first game Friday. LSU won that game 3-2 as Snikeris had an RBI single and two-run home run.
The injured finger made it difficult for Snikeris to grab a bat or throw a baseball, but he did pinch hit and bat twice, drawing a walk to start the winning rally in the 10th.
Freshman Tyler Moore from The Dunham School started in place of Snikeris for the second consecutive game, his fourth start at catcher this season.
Ty Ross, LSU’s starting catcher, made the trip, but was unavailable after undergoing an emergency appendectomy the previous Saturday. Ross is expected to miss at least another week.
Mainieri said playing three games in front of hostile crowds that averaged about 8,000 over the weekend was good preparation for the post-season.
“I thought it was an awesome, awesome, awesome atmosphere here,” Mainieri said. “Next to Alex Box Stadium, is there a better atmosphere than here in Columbia, South Carolina? These fans are into the game. What an atmosphere. If you love college baseball, A, you’ll love the quality of play on the field for three games, and, B, you’ll love the atmosphere of what we’ve been here for. It was unbelievable.
“Talk about hardening your team for the postseason. We’ve experienced it now. This was fantastic — not just that we won, just to go through the experience of being here.
Maineri said the Tigers and the Gamecocks, the Eastern Division champions, both deserve one of the eight national seeds for the NCAA tournament. ... The Tigers improved to 12-5 in one-run games in SEC play.