Broom or gloom: LSU baseball needs to sweep Ole Miss to save its postseason chances

LSU baseball can't afford another slip up or else its postseason hopes will come crashing down. PHOTO BY: LSU Athletics

LSU baseball’s season isn’t officially over, but it’s hanging on by a thread.

The Tigers needed to at least take two games against Alabama to have a good shot at postseason play without needing an SEC Tournament run, but they lost game 8-7 after being just one out away from a win and dropped game three 4-3 after being just 90 feet from tying the game.

LSU now sits at 33-20 overall and 10-17 in SEC play. It’ll need a sweep this week against Ole Miss to hit the 13-win mark that it needs in conference play.

While hitting 13 wins would help the Tigers’ chances of making the postseason, it doesn’t guarantee a spot. LSU had 13 wins when it made a regional, but it also had 13 wins in 2011 when it missed out on the postseason.

LSU sits at No. 34 in RPI and No. 30 in KPI. Ole Miss is sitting at No. 22 in RPI and No. 25 in KPI after a series win over Texas A&M this weekend. Sweeping the Rebels is LSU’s best shot at making the postseason. Teams start to get considered for at-large bids around the 30’s in RPI and KPI and wins over a higher ranked team could boost the Tigers’ spot in the standings.

If LSU drops just one game to Ole Miss though, its postseason dreams could be gone for good. While it is possible to make a regional with just 12 wins, Alabama made it with a 12-17 conference record in 2021, it’s highly unlikely.

For LSU to sweep Ole Miss, it’ll need to win a game three. The Tigers are 1-8 in series finales this season and have been run-ruled three times. They’ve been outscored a combined 82-37 in game threes and on average lose by five runs.

The main cause for LSU’s game three woes has been its lack of a starting option on the mound. Gage Jump and Luke Holman have had their struggles this season, but both players have proven to be capable pitchers. Holman has a 2.74 ERA, and a 7-3 record and Jump has a 3.86 ERA and a 4-1 record.

The problem comes in at the third pitcher spot. Holman or Jump were supposed to be the game three pitchers to start the season with Thatcher Hurd being the game one starter, but Hurd quickly fell back in the pecking order and pitched third for LSU’s first couple SEC series.

Hurd made it 9.2 innings and gave up 12 runs and 13 hits in his first two SEC starts before being taken out of the starting rotation. He’s made just two appearances over the last four weeks and didn’t pitch at all against Alabama. His last outing saw him walk three batters and record no outs in a loss to Texas A&M.

LSU turned to Javen Coleman for the next two series. Coleman did well, but he never pitched more than 2.1 innings as LSU utilized a rotation of pitchers in his starts.

Nate Ackenhausen started three SEC games and helped LSU pickup its only game three win of the season against Missouri, but he’s been used out of the bullpen the last couple of series.

Kade Anderson and Sam Dutton each have on SEC start. Anderson got shelled for five first-inning runs against Auburn. Dutton pitched one scoreless inning against Alabama but gave up three runs in the second inning.

LSU’s hitting must improve as well. Strikeouts have killed the Tigers this season. Hayden Travinski was benched after striking out three times on Saturday. He’s just 1 for 21 at the plate over the last couple of weeks and was meant to be one of LSU’s best hitters this season.

If LSU can’t secure the sweep, a deep SEC Tournament run will be needed to make the postseason. The Tigers could’ve officially made it into the tournament with a win over Alabama after Missouri lost, but now it still has some work to do. One win against Ole Miss would put LSU in the tournament field officially.

As things stand now, LSU would face Georgia in round one of the tournament in a single elimination game on May 21. A win would see LSU face Texas A&M the next day when double elimination starts.

LSU’s series with Ole Miss ends on Saturday and the tournament starts Tuesday meaning LSU will either pitch Holman or Jump on short rest or turn to a different pitching option. Winning the tournament would secure an automatic postseason bid.

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Will Nickel

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