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Jay Johnson recaps LSU's series win over A&M, pushes for more

On3 imageby:Matthew Brune05/06/24


With its back against the wall, LSU delivered a huge series win over No. 1 Texas A&M over the weekend in Alex Box Stadium.

Back-to-back 6-4 wins on Friday and Saturday were led by terrific outings on the mound from the likes of Gage Jump, Thatcher Hurd, Griffin Herring, and Christian Little. A 14-4 loss on Sunday put a damper on the series, but did not change the work Jay Johnson’s team put in and the impact it will have on their postseason hopes.

“We played probably as good as our team has for 22 innings and we just ran out of bullets against a lineup of that caliber,” Johnson said. “I don’t think we could have pitched better for 22 innings, then that fifth inning got away from us. We got their closer in the game for the second day in a row, but we didn’t have much to go to. I don’t look at this as a horrific loss because they added five runs late, we just ran out of steam.

“Proud of this team for the weekend. Proud of them for showing up ready to play today, they just got a lot of good swings off today,”

The Tigers’ RPI shot up from 43 to 35 after getting two wins over the Aggies, but the job is not done yet.

Next up for LSU is another must-win mid-week game against Northwestern State at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, followed by a road series at Alabama, a team that was in the top 25 just a week ago, but lost a series with Mississippi State this weekend.

“We’re in the fight. That’s all we can do right now,” Johnson said. “Tuesday is a really important game. If we can finish 23-3 outside of the league, with a series win against the No. 1 team in the country and winning three SEC series in a row, a lot of bubble teams we have wins against. We have work to do, we’re not in the field, we’re in the fight. I’m really excited about the next two weeks.”

Since getting swept by Tennessee, LSU is now 9-3 in their last 12 games overall and have won three straight SEC series against Missouri, Auburn, and Texas A&M. The growth on the mound has been the greatest improvement for the Tigers as Sunday’s loss marked the first time an opponent has score more than eight runs in nearly a month.

The timely hitting has also been a point of focus for LSU and several times the Tigers’ made winning plays with runners in scoring positions.

“We’ve improved and we’ve grown up,” Johnson said. “We had that gauntlet and guys facing that for the first time, whether that’s new players or returning players in elevated roles. In some of those games we couldn’t get off the mat. We’re a better team and we’re going to keep playing until they tell us we can’t play anymore. It’s been a drastic improvement and that makes me feel good going forward. It’s right in front of us. We have two teams right around us left.”

The Box was rocking over the weekend and it reminded fans and this team what this program is about. The winning culture is still alive and well, even in the midst of a shaky season. We’ve seen teams win the NCAA Tournament without playing a single game at home in the postseason. It’s not about your resume in baseball, it’s about hitting your stride at the right time. Has LSU found something sustainable? Or has it caught lightning in a bottle for a few weeks?

With still a couple weeks left before the postseason, it’s too early to know, but if the Tigers can continue bringing the heat, they’ll lock up an NCAA Tournament bid and be a team no one wants to face in their regional.

“To be in the position we are from where we were is a testament to them sticking to it –  the players, the coaches, the fans,” Johnson said. “This was awesome this weekend. It felt like last year in here over the last two nights and I’m thankful for that and I know the players are thankful. We competed hard, but it’s a good team that finally got in their groove. We made them uncomfortable for the first time in a long time. We’re seeing us at our best as opposed to where we were and that should develop a lot of confidence.”

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