One team’s misery can be another team’s fulfillment in sports. This has never been better illustrated than in the 9th inning of a 3-2 contest, where the LSU Tigers were battling to stay alive and host a regional. Score at least one run against Auburn in the inning or go home. There is no other option. And with runners at second and third with no outs, surely, LSU wouldn’t mess this up, right? If you’re reading this, you likely know the story by now. Auburn found a way to giftwrap this victory for LSU. It played out like so — a ball got past Auburn catcher Matt Scheffler, who struggled to find the spot the location of the ball, allowing Giovanni DiGiacomo and Drew Bianco to score on a wild pitch. That’s right, a walk-off wild pitch set up another matchup with Mississippi State, which the Tigers won 12-2 to outright earn a Top 16 seed. More baseball in Baton Rouge thanks to a crazy wild pitch. Reid and his teammates jump in jubilation while Sheffler buries his head in his glove. As shocking as the play was, we up here in Ouachita Parish have seen this play before. And unfortunately, we’ve also spotted that miserable look on the catcher’s face before. If you’ll recall last year in Sulphur, West Ouachita lost the Class 4A semifinals on a similar play. A wild pitch scored three runs for Benton in the final inning of a 6-5 loss. Naturally, I had to text West Ouachita head coach Mitch Thomas after the crazy finish. “You just won’t let me forget will you?” Sorry, coach. I just couldn’t help myself. Thomas has learned to at least laugh about it a little bit. “At least you can compare us to an SEC team now,” he later texted. But that’s baseball. More than any other sport, the unthinkable seems to happen over and over again, especially in the postseason. It’s maddening for one dugout and pure ecstasy for the other. LSU is traditionally in the thick of it in Hoover, where crazy plays seem to bounce in the Tigers favor. Let us not forget that it was closer Todd Peterson last year that drove a ball deep into the outfield and off the wall to highlight a three-run 12th inning in a win against South Carolina in the SEC Tournament. While it may seem like it, LSU isn’t the only team that experiences unusual circumstances in the postseason. Look at Louisiana Tech and ULM. After a phenomenal year that saw the Bulldogs in the Top 25 at one point, Louisiana Tech has another early exit in the Conference USA Tournament. And as much as Lane Burroughs has accomplished at Louisiana Tech as head coach, the Bulldogs are now 1-6 in the tournament in Biloxi. It doesn’t seem right this team will have to watch the regionals on television like the rest of us. ULM had the reverse happen. The Warhawks were up and down all year but found their groove in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament. ULM beat its first three opponents by a combined score of 38-12. Unfortunately, the Warhawks ran out of gas against Coastal Carolina in the semifinals, but ULM playing meaningful baseball in late May has laid a nice foundation for Michael Federico to build on in the future. So with the regionals getting underway Friday, allow me to state the obvious —always expect the unexpected with postseason baseball.
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