HOOVER, Ala. — Nothing the LSU baseball team does in the Southeastern Conference Tournament will enhance or diminish the Tigers’ record-setting regular season.
It seems highly unlikely that anything that happens in the tourney will have a tangible effect on LSU’s ability or inability to reach the College World Series next month.
Nonetheless, when the Tigers play Alabama early Wednesday afternoon they will have their sights on a very specific albeit short-term goal.
“We’ve put ourselves in a great position through the regular season and people seem to think we have a national seed locked up,” infielder Mason Katz said.
“But we love this tournament. Everybody on this team hates losing. Nobody wants to think if we lose it’s OK. It’s not. We want to win.”
LSU is guaranteed to play at least two games. If it beats the Crimson Tide, it will play the winner of Wednesday’s first game between Arkansas and Ole Miss at 9:30 a.m. Thursday. If it loses, it will play the Arkansas-Ole Miss loser in an elimination game at 4:30 p.m. Thursday.
“The first goal is to win the first two games and get off on Friday and get to the weekend,” Tigers coach Paul Mainieri said. “I don’t want to go into the NCAAs on a bit of a downer.”
In last year’s tournament, LSU lost its opener to Mississippi State, beat Ole Miss in an elimination game then lost to State again and finished fifth after having won the overall regular-season title.
“I thought about that as soon as the regular season ended,” Katz said. “It felt terrible last year. There aren’t many guys who were on the team when we won it my freshman year.”
Only Katz, infielder Alex Edward and relievers Joey Bourgeois and Chris Cotton are left from the 2010 SEC Tournament champions.
“We won it in ’08, we won it in ’09 and we won it in ’10 and it was a thrilling thing,” Mainieri said. “You saw our kids dogpile out there.”
Alabama had a mini dogpile five weeks ago when it walked off with a 4-3, 10-inning win to avoid a sweep against LSU.
In that game, sophomore left-hander Cody Glenn, who will start Wednesday, limited Bama to one earned run in eight innings, though he allowed two unearned runs.
The Tide will counter with senior right-hander Charlie Sullivan, who gave up seven hits and four runs in six innings to get the loss as LSU won the series opener 6-2.
“We’re not in the same situation that some other teams might be in (fighting for an NCAA bid),” Cotton said. “We might have that national seed locked up but we’ll be relaxed out there and ready to go. This will help us for regionals.”
All four of Wednesday’s games will be televised on CST, beginning with the 9:30 a.m. game between Arkansas and Ole Miss.