The LSU Tigers baseball team had a terrific month in April of 2012. The team won 14 games while losing only four, despite facing tough SEC opponents Kentucky, Florida and Arkansas, among others. As an LSU fan, I am hoping to see the Tigers continue this success in the month of May and improve upon their 35-10 record.
This year's LSU team certainly seems to have a knack for winning close games, and that was evident in April. Of the team's 14 wins, seven of them were won by only one run. Overall, LSU finished 7-1 in one-run games last month.
Another reason fans are excited about April is that the Tigers fared very well against some of the country's best teams. Playing seven games against teams ranked third or higher, LSU finished 4-3 for the month. More impressive is the Tigers' record against nationally ranked teams this season, which is now 8-4.
The Tigers have relied on solid pitching from their top three starters every weekend. Kevin Gausman has led the way with a season record of 7-1 and a 3.12 ERA. In addition, Ryan Eades and Aaron Nola each have ERAs under 4.00. Nola, a freshman, is having a great debut season and should prove to be a key weapon in the postseason.
Meanwhile, the offense is still not generating as much power as previous LSU teams have. In fact, the only player with more than three home runs is junior Mason Katz, who leads the team with eight. However, the Tigers continue to win with "small ball" and have five players with batting averages higher than .300. Junior Raph Rhymes has led the way all season and currently has an impressive .500 average.
As fans know, playing in the SEC requires battling tough opponents each week, and I believe the Tigers are now ready to finish this season strong. With series against Ole Miss, Vanderbilt and South Carolina remaining, LSU will use the next few weeks to prepare for the SEC Tournament and then, hopefully, the NCAA Tournament.
Head coach Paul Mainieri has done an exceptional job in managing this team, consistently putting players in the best spots to succeed. If the Tigers continue to play in May like they did in April, LSU fans will have a lot to cheer about, and our team may be headed back to the College World Series.
Mike Patton is a sports fan who grew up in New Orleans cheering for the New Orleans Saints, Chicago Cubs, and LSU Tigers. As a kid in 1987, he made his first trip to Wrigley Field and also slept outside of the Louisiana Superdome to purchase playoff tickets for the Saints' first postseason appearance. Follow Mike on twitter @MikePattonGBS.