The Road to Omaha begins
It’s that time of year again where we realize just how quickly the college baseball season goes by. For some teams like LSU, they’ve already punched their ticket to the NCAA regionals. Other teams, like Tulane, will have to win their tournaments to get into baseball’s “Big Dance.” Either way, the entire college baseball nation is entering do or die time.
LSU Tigers (34-22)
It’s funny to think of a team hovering around the top 15 in the NCAA and feeling like its been a ho-hum season, but when you’ve had the success that LSU has had it makes sense.
Assured of an invite to the NCAA regionals, LSU is more concerned with getting to host a regional and making teams face the crowds of Alex Box Stadium. The Tigers have some work to do in that regard as they have to play in the single-elimination round of the SEC tournament this Tuesday, May 21 at 8 p.m., versus South Carolina. A loss will extinguish any hopes of hosting. Now, the Gamecocks are a bad ball club but you never know what can happen in tourney time. If the Tigers beat South Carolina they will play a nasty Mississippi State Bulldogs ball club that is ranked fifth in the country.
Tulane Green Wave (31-24)
Tulane has only one path to the NCAA regionals – win the American Athletic Conference tournament.
It’s been a year that saw the Green Wave beat the bad AAC teams and lose to the good ones. Tulane does not own a series win over an AAC club with a winning record and stumbled down the stretch going 5-11 in their last 16 games. Along the way they lost the second seed in the AAC tournament and that, in the end, could be their ticket to the AAC championship.
Tulane, as the three seed, couldn’t ask for a better draw in the tourney. The other side of the bracket features ECU, Houston and UConn, the three teams that heavily contributed to Tulane’s late season swoon. On the other hand (and bracket), Tulane is matched up versus UCF, Cincinnati and Memphis. This is a bracket that the Green Wave can win.
While Tulane’s pitching can be hard to watch at some points, this team’s bats can win a weekend and get the team to the championship. If they survive their side of the bracket, things get a lot tougher for the Green Wave in the final but once they are there, who knows what can happen?
Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves (even though that’s what sports are all about), as Tulane’s first opponent will be the UCF Knights (34-20) on Tuesday, May 21, in a primetime matchup. The Knights are arguably the only AAC team that put the Green Wave offense on ice earlier this year.
Hey Uptown! Your boys are still in it! Roll Wave.
Southern Jaguars (32-22)
The SWAC tournament wrapped up Sunday with the Southern University Jaguars smoking Alabama State 15-0 to win their first tournament title since 2009. If LSU hosts a regional in Baton Rouge, Southern will obviously be in their bracket which adds a lot of flavor considering that Southern has a mid-week victory over LSU this year.
And before the LSU faithful start chirping that Southern hasn’t seen LSU’s starting pitchers let me just say I KNOW and you should really get out more. All kidding aside, the turnaround at Southern is an amazing story and Coach Kerrick Jackson should be a prime Coach of the Year candidate. Jackson, in his second year as head coach, watched his club struggle to nine wins in his first season but now has them playing with the big boys. What a turnaround.
And like a fine wine with a steak dinner, every game should be accompanied by a beverage and song.
Beer Pairing: Miel Brewery’s – “Molly Moo” IPA
Playlist Recommendation: Beastie Boys –“So Wat’cha Want”
Around the Way
After the controversial finish and disqualification of Maximum Security at the Kentucky Derby and decision of Country House’s connections not to run in the second leg of the Triple Crown, you could not have possibly written a better finish in what could be the last Preakness Stakes held at Pimlico Race Course.
War of Will, the horse that was almost tripped up by Maximum Security, and his jockey Tyler Gaffalione stuck to the rail for the victory in a trip that was reminiscent of Calvin Borel and Mine That Bird.
Like I said last week, no one knows what War of Will could have done in the Kentucky Derby after almost being run over by Maximum Security. What a great and well-deserved win. On a side note, it’s also nice that the winners of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes both ran at The Fair Grounds.