Minden Press-Herald

Wednesday
Oct 01st

LSU wins SEC Tournament

lsuBATON ROUGE (AP) — As the No. 7 national seed popped up on the 50-inch flat screen, Aaron Nola's heart began pounding harder than ever.

Seven of the eight national seeds had been revealed, and LSU had not appeared.

Surrounded by teammates and coaches in the Champions Club lounge at Alex Box Stadium, Nola watched nervously for national seed No. 8.

It was LSU.

Players erupted in cheers, coach Paul Mainieri gave a fist pump toward the beige ceiling, and the Tigers had completed a magical march to gaining a key NCAA postseason spot.

"We showed up on the board," Nola said, "and all of the weight lifted off my shoulders. It's awesome to get a national seed."

Mainieri said: "The real season begins now."

LSU claimed the last of the eight national seeds in the NCAA tournament and will host a best-of-three super regional if it wins a four-team regional this weekend.

The Tigers (44-14-1) will host SE Louisiana, Houston and Bryant in a regional starting Friday. Those three teams each won their conference tournament, and Houston has an RPI of No. 10.

The Tigers and Lions (37-23) meet at 2 p.m. Friday to open the regional. LSU will "probably" start either freshman Jared Poché or Nola, Mainieri said Monday. Houston (44-15) and Bryant (42-14) meet at 7 p.m. Friday. The winners play at 7 p.m. Saturday for the right to advance to the regional final Sunday.

It's no easy regional. Southeastern might be one of the strongest No. 4 seeds at any of the 16 regionals, and Houston just a few weeks ago was poised to host its own regional.

The big get, though, was landing a Top 8 seed — something that seemed so distant to this team just a week ago.

It was a close.

LSU was one of five teams considered for the final three national seeds, NCAA baseball committee chairman Dennis Farrell said. Vanderbilt and Rice were left out for No. 6 seed Louisiana-Lafayette, seventh seed TCU and LSU.

"Rice, I'm sure, is kind of upset about it," Mainieri said. "They won the regular season, won their tournament, have a heck of a team, and were a spot ahead of us in the RPI. It's a tough decision those committees have to make."

Rice's regional — a stiff group of teams that includes Texas and Texas A&M — is paired with LSU. The Tigers, with a regional title, would host the Rice regional winner next week for the chance to advance to the College World Series.

LSU is five wins from a second straight trip to Omaha — and all of the games will come in Alex Box Stadium. The Tigers have never reached the CWS by winning a super regional on the road since this format began in 1999.

They won't have to in 2014.

"It's a 56-game season, and your only goal is to be a national seed," senior Sean McMullen said. "Can't think about Omaha, can't think about the really big picture. You've got to worry about what you can control: putting yourself in position to get a national seed."

A late-season surge thrust LSU into a third straight national seed selection.

Last Updated ( May 27, 2014 )  

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