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LSU in the NCAA Tournament - 1985
When Jim Smith retired after the 1978 season, his 13th as head baseball coach, LSU hired its first full-time baseball coach.
  • Jack Lamabe had pitched in the major leagues for seven different clubs from 1962-68. He was part of the staff for the 1967 American League champion Boston Red Sox.
  • In his five-year stint at LSU, Lamabe compiled a 134-125 record (.538) but was only 46-55 (.455) in the SEC.

Athletic director Bob Brodhead then made a decision that resulted in LSU baseball quickly becoming a powerhouse program.

  • Bob hired Skip Bertman, the associate head coach under Ron Fraser at Miami.
  • Skip's first Tiger team (1984) finished 32-23, good for third place in the SEC West.
  • His next club won 21 of their first 26 games on their way to winning a school record 41 games - one more than the SEC champs of 1975 - to tie for first in the SEC West.
  • However, two straight losses at Alex Box Stadium in the SEC Tournament put the Tigers' NCAA hopes in jeopardy. Bertman gave the team the next week off. That would prove to be a mistake.
  • The Selection Committee gave the #19-ranked Tigers an at-large spot in the six-team Central Regional in Austin TX.

LSU faced Houston (43-15) in the opening round.

  • Bertman hoped his hitters would snap out of a late season slump that dropped the team batting average below .300 (.297) for the first time all season.
  • Senior captain Robbie Smith, with a 6-1 record, got the starting assignment against the Cougars despite suffering an injured elbow in recent weeks. The right-hander would face a lineup that included six lefty swingers on a club that averaged .309 for the season.
  • Two features of Texas's Disch-Falk Stadium would pose challenges: the artificial surface and the large power alleys. "This is a big ball park," said Bertman. "It's going to take a poke and half to get that baby out of there."

Houston jumped on Smith right away.

  • He lasted only 2/3 of an inning before giving way to southpaw Mark Guthrie. The Cougars plated three runs in the frame.
  • But the Tigers tied the score in the bottom of the third when CF Tim Sossamon smacked a three-run double.
  • Houston bounced right back with a run in the fourth and two more in the sixth off Guthrie.
  • The Cougars salted away the victory with four runs in the ninth off Stan Loewer. One of the runs was unearned thanks to the Tigers' fourth error of the day.
  • LSU scored a run in the bottom of the ninth to make the final score 11-4.
  • Bertman admitted he made a poor choice for his starting pitcher. "Robbie was injured and shouldn't have pitched. That's my fault."

The Tigers met Lamar the next day in an elimination game.

  • Sparked by RF Albert Belle's two-RBI single, LSU led 3-0 after six innings before four more errors led to four runs that knocked the Tigers out of the tournament.
  • Eric Hetzel gave the Tigers four scoreless innings before giving way to Loewer in the fifth. He kept the shutout alive for two more innings before giving up an unearned run in the seventh. The Cardinals opened with two singles, but the Tigers turned a double play that left a runner on third with two outs. SS Jeff Reboulet fielded a ground ball, but his throw to first pulled 1B John Dixon off the bag to cut the lead to 3-1. Reboulet admitted that the artificial turf forced him to make adjustments. "The balls were getting to me so quick. I had to wait for John to get to the bag. I threw it as hard as I could. It just took off."
  • Lamar got another unearned run in the eighth on a double off senior right-hander Clay Parker and an error on Dixon, who couldn't corral a grounder that went into the RF corner.
  • The Tigers still led 3-2 with Parker on the mound in the bottom of the ninth. 2B David Cortez collected his fourth straight single to start the inning. He advanced to second when C Rob Leary's pickoff attempt skipped into RF. OF Junior Lemons tied the game with a double down the RF line. John Frankie laid down a bunt single between Parker and Dixon. Lemons would have stopped at third except that Parker's glove toss to 1B bounced into RF.
  • Sossamon was at a loss to explain the shoddy fielding. "Defense has kept us together all year. We had the game in our hands." Parker added, "It was like we were just waiting for something bad to happen." Clay thought the week's layoff after the SEC Tournament "affected us mentally. We were ready to enjoy our sumer. It was so doubtful that we were ever going to the tournament. It's hard to come back and play at this level."
  • Bertman said, "We were never on top of our game. Luck's got nothing to do with it. The outs were just so feeble. We swung at a lot of bad pitches. We struggled so bad that it's sad. I feel sad for the guys."

Skip Bertman

Mark Guthrie

Stan Loewer

Albert Belle

Jeff Reboulet

Clay Parker

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