Back home in Baton Rouge: Davis takes Cards to alma mater, workplace LSU

Published 8:49 pm Monday, April 17, 2017

Will Davis was going to take over as Lamar’s baseball coach after the 2016 season, so it was only appropriate that his legendary predecessor let him call the shots against a team he had worked with just the previous month.

The result of it was Lamar’s most notable victory of the season, a 12-11 decision before a Vincent-Beck Stadium record of 3,563 that Feb. 24, 2016 evening. Davis was named Jim Gilligan’s successor 40 days earlier.

“Regardless of the opponent, it was one of the greatest wins I’ve ever been a part of,” Davis said at the time.

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Lamar staged two comebacks in that game. The first was from an 8-0 deficit to 8-3 after three innings, 8-5 after five and a 10-8 lead after six. LSU scored three in the seventh, but Robin Adames drove in two run on his first career hit in the eighth, and Enrique Oquendo earned the save.

“To come back twice like that shows the resiliency of our club,” Davis said. “I think the sky’s the limit. I really do.”

And Davis felt that way in June when he was formally introduced as head coach, mentioning Lamar was “close” to an NCAA Regional, although the Cardinals didn’t get into the NCAA tournament. The Cards had beaten a Tigers team that hosted a Super Regional and an Arizona team that marched to the national championship series.

Blame Coastal Carolina for ending both LSU’s and Arizona’s seasons.

These days, Davis’ Cardinals (22-15, 9-9 Southland) are bouncing back in another way. They have won five straight after losing five of seven, so they find themselves on a roll going into Alex Box Stadium for Tuesday’s visit with the Tigers (25-12, 9-6 SEC), who are just two games behind Arkansas in the SEC West.

That seems to matter more to Davis than his homecoming.

“I’m excited about it because it’s a chance for us to play another really good opponent in the midweek this year,” said the 32-year-old former LSU player and eight-year assistant in a Lamar release. “I’m sure it will be a little different at first, but once the first pitch is thrown, it’s just another baseball game.”

LSU coach Paul Maineri, with whom Davis won a national championship as a first-year assistant coach in 2009, expressed how proud he was of his mentee.

“I knew he would do a great job, and they’re only going to continue to get better under his leadership,” Maineri said. “It will be a kind of awkward feeling coaching against Will, because I love him and I’m very proud of him. We’re just going to have to put our friendship on hold for about three hours tomorrow night.”

Tuesday’s game, which will air on SEC Network Plus, raises awareness of prostate cancer. LSU, whose colors are purple and gold, will wear blue batting helmets in promoting early detection and treatment of the cancer.

Ryan Johnson (1-0, 1.35 ERA) will be on the mound to start for Lamar against Caleb Gilbert (1-1, 3.22). Greg Deichmann for LSU has 12 home runs and has driven in 43 runs this season, but the Tigers will be trying to calm down the bat of Lamar’s Cutter McDowell, who’s batted .451 in his past 22 games.

I.C. Murrell: 721-2435. Twitter: @ICMurrellPANews

About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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