Around the Bases // Upsets for the Tigers and the Gamecocks

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The Curious Case of Bayou Bengals. What to make of LSU. After all, the (likely formerly) No. 1 Tigers lost two of three games against unranked Illinois while outscoring them 25-19. The reason for the split decision -- if you can really call it that -- is that the Illini won two relatively low-scoring games (3-1, 6-2) while the Bengals were victorious in a 22-10 slugfest.

All of that will not and should not matter to Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball, both of whom will likely find a new top-ranked team after the debacle in Baton Rouge.

Everybody loses one. But, then again, when you're trying to entrech yourself the Top 25, you would prefer your first loss not be to a team that's been winning about 30 percent of its games. Or because of three home runs by a player not known for prodigious offense -- or offense at all, really.

Led by first baseman Steve Tinoco's three home runs, the Dirtbags avoided a series sweep and handed the Gamecocks their first loss, 10-7 at Carolina Stadium.

The outburst by Tinoco, who entered the game batting .158 with no homers, negated USC's four home runs - one each by Whit Merrifield, Andrew Crisp, Justin Dalles and Nick Ebert - and helped snap a five-game skid by Long Beach State (3-7).

Tinoco, who finished with five of the Dirtbags' 17 hits, admitted he had never hit three homers in one game. He didn't mind that his teammates were kidding him that none of the three would have left Long Beach's large park, which measures 408 feet to center. He was happy to go back to California with a win.

All amusing, if you're a Dirtbags fan. If you're a South Carolina fan, not so much.

That said, offensive numbers at South Carolina's new stadium should apparently be viewed with a hefty share of skepticism. Three teams have combined for 62 runs in the last four games.

Sweeping: Ole Miss, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky and Auburn. None of them beat any real giants of the college baseball world in the nonconference matchups, of course, but it's always better to go undefeated in the weekend than to lose one. Ole Miss, in particular, should be guardedly optimistic that its turnaround is beginning to pick up after taking all three from Vermont. Again, not a great team -- but neither is Mercer, and the Rebels couldn't beat them in the only shot they got.

Georgia can also take solace; the Dawgs remain the only undefeated team in the SEC.

No Southern hospitality. Don't look for Duquesne to return to the SEC any more than they absolutely have to. The Dukes have lost 11 straight to start the season, thanks in no small part to three-game sweeps by South Carolina and Florida. A 5-3 loss Saturday in Gainesville is the only game against the Gamecocks or Gators that Duquesne did not lose by at least four runs. The combined margin for the six losses? 54-14.

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