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Week 14 Series Preview: vs. The Yellow Shoe Gumbo Bengals

A pair of teams with 14-13 SEC records—though trending in different directions—meet up for the last weekend before Hooverville.

NCAA Football: College Football Playoff National Champions-Louisiana State Celebration
What’s with all of these SEC mascots dressing as furries? Hat on a hat, people.
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Week Fourteen (5/19-5/21): vs. The Yellow Shoe Gumbo Bengals

Thursday @ 7:00pm CT on ESPN2

Friday @ 6:00pm CT on SECN+

Saturday @ 1:00pm CT on SEC Network

Record: 34-18 (14-3 SEC). The Gumbo Bengals are effectively tied with Vanderbilt and Ugga going into the last week of the season (Vanderbilt has the tiebreaker over Ugga; Yellow Shoe also has the tiebreaker over Ugga). Though their slugging offense might remind you of their Gorilla Ball era, their pitching and defense are liabilities. The Gumbo Bengals are also slumping at the wrong time of the year, as they were swept last weekend by Ole Piss. Of course, bookending that sweep were absolute bludgeonings over Southeastern Louisiana University (17-3) and Northwestern State (19-7). Both of those things tell the story of the 2022 Gumbo Bengal squad. If you keep them from putting up football numbers, you’ve got a pretty good chance of taking the series.

They took 2 of 3 from the Jorts, lost 2 of 3 to the War Tigers, swept Clanga (which is not as much of an accomplishment as it sounds like now), got swept by Arky, swept Missourah (spits), took 2 of 3 from Ugga, took 2 of 3 from Ramajama, and, as mentioned above, were most recently swept by Ole Piss.

Their conference record tells the story of a Jekyll and Hyde team, which is accurate of all teams who can knock the cover off the ball, but can neither pitch nor field. They will be a challenge, but should be the least of the challenges we will have faced in the past three weeks.

I’ll not go into all the machinations of what this means for us regarding the SEC Tourney (trust me, there are far too many possibilities, and though we’re likely playing on Tuesday, there is a remote chance we could get as high as the #3 seed—though don’t count on that, as Auburn plays Kentucky and Arky plays Ramajama). I’ll simply say this: if we win this series, we’re hosting. It’s really that cut and dry now.

Player to Watch: #3 So. OF Dylan “Awesome X” Crews (.335/.447/.655 with 7 2B, 4 3B, 17 HR, 58 RBI, and 3-5 steals). Awesome X is a near lock to join our own Enrique Shockwave as an All SEC Outfielder this year, and both will be on the Golden Spikes Award watch list for 2023. Both figure to be high first round draft picks in 2023, as well. To answer Justin Kirby and Lsmsrbls twitter questions, yes, they are both good at baseball.

I’d also keep an eye out for #14 So. 3B Jacob “The Rasp” Berry (.378/.465/.672 with 8 2B, 0 3B, 15 HR, 46 RBI). Berry broke a finger on his right hand on May 6th, so he may not play at all this series. I mean, I hope they do the right thing and let him heal, but LSU’s athletic department has never been the bulwark of ethics. We know Berry well, as he was on the Arizona team we faced in the first game of Omaha last year (winning 7-6 in 12 innings). When his coach took the Yellow Shoe jerb, he brought his best player. There used to be a rule against stuff like that. Anyway, I doubt he’ll be able to hold a bat all that well this weekend, but we may see him nonetheless.

*Update: Berry is in the lineup today, batting 3rd. We appear to be using Vastine as a DH. Umm... okay.

Anchor of Gold Tiger Beat Hottest Pitcher: No one, really, as LSU has had some down years pitching wise, of late, and this is one of them. Their best reliever by ERA—#47 RS So. LHP Jacob “Miss Jackson if You’re” Hasty (2-0, 1.71 ERA)—has only appeared in 9 games. I guess I’ll go with #52 5th Year Sr. RHP Ma’Khail “Gorbachev” Hilliard (5-1, 4.35 ERA). The former President of the Soviet Union was 9-5 with a 3.79 ERA as a freshman, but was never able to regain his mojo. All that glasnost and perestroika can really take it out on a young pitcher. He’s their Friday starter this year. In his last start against Ole Piss, he went 3 IP and yielded 4 ER. This year, he’s probably their best starter, but that speaks to the weakness of their staff overall.

Their closer, #35 RS Jr. RHP Paul “Ricky” Gervase (3-1, 2.32 ERA, 5 saves) is pretty good, but you can always take the lead on their starters and not have to worry about facing him late. When they win, it’s because they have slugged you to death. They’re basically the 2022 Philadelphia Phillies if all 5 of Philly’s starting pitchers didn’t exist.

Confidence Level: Pretty high. The Diamond Dores have the look of a team that’s peaking at the right time. On the flip side, the Gumbo Bengals may well be running out of lagniappe.

On the Mound (Probably)

Thursday @ 7:00pm CT on ESPN2

Vanderbilt #95 Fr. LHP Devin “The Future” Futrell (8-1, 2.52 ERA)

vs. #52 Yellow Shoe 5th Year Sr. RHP Ma’Khail “Gorbachev” Hilliard (5-1, 4.35 ERA)

Friday @ 6:00pm CT on SECN+

#42 Vanderbilt So. RHP Christian “The Answer” Little (1-1; 2.96 ERA)

vs. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ [Their 2nd starter, against Ole Piss was #28 Yellow Shoe Grad Student RHP Devin “Little Fountain” Fontenot (2-2, 3.86 ERA). The Little Fountain only lasted an inning and a 3rd, yielding 3 runs last week.]

Saturday @ 1:00pm CT on SEC Network

#35 Vanderbilt Jr. RHP Chris “McBain” McElvain (5-4; 3.93 ERA)

vs. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ [Their 3rd starter on Sunday against Ole Piss did not even record an out before being pulled, so yeah, LSU basically has one starter, and then it’s Johnny Wholestaff for the rest of the series.]

*Note: You are likely wondering why no Carter Holton this week. I honestly don’t know. 1) He threw 113 pitches in 7 innings on Sunday, so the Thursday through Saturday aspect of this series means he would be going on short rest. 2) Maybe Corbs want Holton to start game one in Hooverville. That’s all I can speculate.

The Lineup

1 cf 51 Enrique Bradfield Jr L .330

2 c 16 Jack Bulger R .276

3 rf 34 Spencer Jones L .366

4 1b 12 Dominic Keegan R .384

5 lf 2 Javier Vaz L .266

6 3b 25 Parker Noland L .245

7 2b 6 Tate Kolwyck R .277

8 dh 13 Jonathan Vastine L .163

9 ss 11 Davis Diaz R .229

See you in the comments.