Not a favorite flashback
The first inning from Omaha this afternoon had to make a few LSU baseball fans, and one former LSU baseball media relations assistant, have a Groundhog Day experience.
Fullerton scored three runs in the bottom of the first off of LSU ace Alex Lange. If the Bayou Bengals cannot get it together, they will be on a plane tomorrow morning heading back to Baton Rouge, their 2015 campaign ended, and with it the career of many LSU starting position players.
Let’s go back 21 years to the Groundhog Day experience I referred to at the start.
The date: June 5, 1994. Eleven days after my graduation from Brother Martin High School. Exactly one week before O.J. Simpson (allegedly) murdered Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman. Nine days before the New York Rangers won their first Stanley Cup since 1940. Seventeen days before the Houston Rockets won their first NBA championship. Sixty-eight days before the beginning of the 1994 Major League Baseball strike, and 91 before Bud Selig canceled the 1994 World Series. Less than three months before the son of a former NFL quarterback made his collegiate debut for the Tennessee Volunteers.
I had no clue about the Internet. I had no clue you could communicate electronically via e-mail. I certainly didn’t have a cell phone. My dad always told me to take plenty of quarters in case I had to stop at a pay phone. Yeah, do that as a not quite 18-year old white kid in the middle of New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward.
I had yet to attend an LSU baseball game in Baton Rouge. Up until then, the only LSU games I saw were at the Superdome in the annual Busch Challenge, renamed the Winn-Dixie Showdown in 1993. I knew Bill Franques was the media relations director for LSU baseball. I had no idea the voice I kept hearing on the radio broadcasts of LSU baseball away games with Jim Hawthorne was his.
LSU bowed out of the College World Series June 5, 1994, another typical hot and humid Sunday in the Crescent City.
No, check that. They Bayou Bengals were swept away from the CWS by an F-5 tornado (the Enhanced Fujita scale didn’t come around until Greensburg) named Call State Fullerton.
Titans 20, LSU 6.
Just one year after winning its second CWS in three seasons, one year after freshman Brett Laxton struck out 16 Wichita State Shockers in a three-hit shutout in the championship game, LSU went “two-and-barbecue” in Omaha for the first time in what was the Bayou Bengals’ seventh appearance.
Fullerton was eliminated in its next game by Florida State, but it was just ramping for what would be a dominating 1995, which saw the Titans steamroll its way through the season, including four games of the South Regional at the old Alex Box Stadium, on their way to their third national championship under Augie Garrido, joining titles in 1979 and 1984. Garrido actually left Fullerton from 1988 through 1990 to coach Illinois, but came back in ’91 when Larry Cochell, Garrido’s successor, left for Oklahoma.
LSU did not recover in 1995. In fact, it got worse for the Bayou Bengals. They started the season ranked #1 in all the major polls and ripped off a 31-4 start (8-1 in the SEC) through April 12, but then the bottom fell out.
LSU lost four of its five series vs. SEC West teams, lost twice more to Alabama in the SEC West division tournament (I’ll explain that another time), and then the Bayou Bengals were shelled for 31 runs in two regional games vs. Rice to bow out.
It got much better in 1996. LSU rebounded to win the national championship, won another in 1997, and came close to a third straight in 1998.
As for 2015, it doesn’t look good. LSU is down 3-0 in the bottom of the 2nd.