Tigers await Monday’s fate from the NCAA baseball tournament selection committee

PHOTO by Gus Stark

The NCAA announced the site of its 16 baseball regionals Sunday night, including seven SEC schools and Louisiana Tech.

Whether LSU will be in any of the regionals will be revealed at 11 a.m. Monday on ESPN2 when the complete 64-team field (30 automatic conference bids, 34 at-large selections), the top 16 national seeds, first-round regional pairings and site assignments are announced.

The 34-22 Tigers, which lost 4-1 to Georgia last Tuesday in an SEC tournament first-day elimination game, has had their RPI fall to No. 28 nationally the last several days from No. 22 nationally just after the loss to the Bulldogs. LSU’s strength of schedule dropped No. 2 nationally to No. 4.

In Baseball America’s NCAA tournament projections as of Sunday night, the Tigers are listed as one of the last four teams in the field.

Baseball America also projected LSU as the No. 3 in the Ruston Region hosted by top-seed Louisiana Tech, which lost in Conference USA finals on its home field to Old Dominion on Sunday. Florida State, which beat LSU in consecutive games in a 2019 Super Regional, at Alex Box Stadium is the projected No. 2 seed. Sun Belt Conference tourney champ South Alabama is the projected No. 4 seed.

LSU head coach Paul Mainieri, who announced his resignation Friday effective at the end of the season, is hoping he has a few more games in the dugout rather than his career ending with the SEC tourney loss.

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.

“We didn’t accomplish what we typically accomplish at LSU during the regular season and the SEC Ttournament, but I’m also proud because there were times when they could easily have given up, and we haven’t given up,” Mainieri said. “We didn’t accomplish everything we should have. There certainly are areas we could have done better in, but they didn’t give up.

“And if we get an opportunity to get in the NCAA Tournament, I feel very confident that this team is going to go out and play their hearts out next weekend, and I’m all in. I’m not retired yet. The season is not over yet.

“I believe wholeheartedly that we’ll get a bid, and if we do, the coaching staff is going to be totally engaged and where are we get sent, we are going to play like LSU Tigers are supposed to play. And I think we can win a regional and then we’ll think about a super regional after that.”

Until the COVID-19 pandemic ended the 2020 season in mid-March before the start of SEC play, LSU had been to the NCAA tournament in 11 of Mainieri’s first 13 years including a national title in 2009 and five trips to the College World Series.

In 75 NCAA tourney games under Mainieri, LSU is 52-23 including 29-7 in regionals (26-3 home, 3-4 away), 12-6 in Super Regionals (all at home) and 11-10 in the College World Series.

The only times the Tigers have gone on the road for the regionals under Mainieri has been in 2010 when they were 1-2 in the Los Angeles Regional hosted by UCLA and in 2018 when they were 2-2 in the Corvallis Regional hosted by Oregon State. LSU has been outscored 55-33 in its seven road regional games.

This season, LSU has played against seven of 16 teams (Arkansas, South Carolina, Tennessee, Mississippi State, Vanderbilt, Ole Miss, Louisiana Tech) hosting regionals and the Tigers are 7-13 against those teams.

Five of the teams hosting regionals – Florida, Tennessee, TCU, Ole Miss and East Carolina – have head coaches mentioned as possible replacements for Mainieri.

Here are the 16 NCAA regional sites with hosts and win-loss record:

Austin, Texas – Texas (42-15)

Columbia, South Carolina – South Carolina (33-21)

Eugene, Oregon – Oregon (37-14)

Fayetteville, Arkansas – Arkansas (46-10)

Fort Worth, Texas – TCU (40-17)

Gainesville, Florida – Florida (38-20)

Greenville, North Carolina – East Carolina (41-15)

Knoxville, Tennessee – Tennessee (45-16)

Lubbock, Texas – Texas Tech (36-15)

Nashville, Tennessee – Vanderbilt (40-15)

Oxford, Mississippi – Ole Miss (41-19)

Ruston, Louisiana – Louisiana Tech (40-18)

South Bend, Indiana – Notre Dame (30-11)

Stanford, California – Stanford (33-14)

Starkville, Mississippi – Mississippi St. (40-15)

Tucson, Arizona – Arizona (40-15)

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