What a difference a week makes. This time last Monday I was concerned about if the current line-up could produce enough runs to help the pitching staff. Thanks to sweeping all three games against Arkansas, and winning five total games in a row, let’s leave the line-up alone for right now.
The Tigers flashbacked to 1997 on Friday night with the return on gorilla ball. LSU hit three homers and had to rally after giving up five early runs to Arkansas, but won 10-6. Saturday and Sunday both games were similar. Great pitching, low scoring and LSU winning in the last at-bat (2-1, 3-2) were the recipes for last weekend’s success.
LSU, who was batting under .290 in SEC play, batted .336 (36/107) and had a .401 on-base percentage. The key to a great line-up is the 1-6 hitter productions. Jacoby Jones, Grant Dozar, Mason Katz, Raph Rhymes, Austin Nola and Ty Ross combined to bat .438, accounted for 14 of the 15 runs scored over the weekend, 12 of the 15 RBIs, had a on-base percentage of .534 and hit three homers (Rhymes, Nola, Ross) and five doubles.
Big weekend for two Tiger hitters, Raph Rhymes and Ty Ross. Rhymes Continues his hitting tear, after batting .583 on the weekend he is batting .491 on the season. More impressive is that Rhymes continues to put the ball in play or reach base. Of his 12 weekend at bats, Rhymes reached base nine times. Rhymes accounted for six RBIs and is starting to look more like a clean-up hitter than a lead-off. Ty Ross also had a strong weekend. Finished the weekend batting six of 13 (.461) with two extra-base hits. Ross had the game winning hit on Saturday and scored the game winning run on Sunday. When you add the overall improvements at the plate with his defense, it is clear that Ross is the most improved Tiger this year from last.
Two negatives that need to improve for the LSU bats moving forward. The first is they need to solidify the DH spot. The injury to Chris Sciambra forced Paul Maineri to use Grant Dozar in the field and open up the DH spot. The first weekend was an epic fail. The combination of Beau Didier, Casey Yocum and Tyler Moore combined to go 0-10 with four strikeouts. Let’s put that stat on rust of those batters not facing much SEC pitching this season. The second was Mason Katz. Katz reach base batting .384 (5-13) on the weekend and only struck out one time. The thing is LSU hit into four double plays all weekend (seems lower than the last two weekend series) and Katz hit into three of those double plays. Obviously someone batting in the three hole has a higher risk of hitting into a double play, but one per game seems a bit high.
This is they type of performance we have all been looking for from this team. When the team hits like this, they are a legitimate Omaha contender. The series sweep seems to have given the bats some much needed confidence. Being able to score runs in crunch situations is something all the batters will have to get comfortable with especially with this weekends series at Florida.