The NCAA baseball tournament selection committee extended retiring LSU head coach Paul Mainieri’s 39-year career in the dugout for at least another weekend.
The 34-22 Tigers earned its 12th and final NCAA tourney invite under Mainieri when LSU received an at-large bid Monday when brackets were announced.
The selection committee decided to send the Tigers to the Eugene Regional hosted by Oregon (37-14) at PK Park. LSU is set to play Gonzaga (33-17) Friday night at 7 p.m. Oregon plays Central Connecticut State.
Gonzaga (33-17, 15-5) won the Western Athletic Conference regular season championship. The WAC has no post-season tournament. The Zags’ final RPI was No. 27, one place ahead of LSU. Oregon (37-14, 19-11), which finished second in the Pac 12 which also has no postseason tourney, has a No. 16 RPI. Central Connecticut State (28-13), which won the Northeast Conference tourney championship Sunday night, has a No. 114 RPI.
After a 1-8 start in SEC play, the Tigers finished 13-17 in the league by winning four of their last four series including the last three. Following a 4-1 loss to Georgia last Tuesday in an SEC tournament first-day elimination game, LSU had its RPI fall from No. 22 nationally to No. 28 and its strength of schedule dropped from No. 2 nationally to No. 4.
It’s why the Tigers had the new experience of waiting, wondering and hoping they’d get an NCAA invite instead of taking it for granted they’d not only get a bid but would be a regional host and possibly a top 8 seed.
LSU was one of nine SEC teams receiving NCAA tourney bids. Arkansas, Florida, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, South Carolina, Tennessee and Vanderbilt were named Sunday night as regional hosts. Alabama earned at at-large bid and will play at Louisiana Tech in the Ruston Regional.
More on this story later.