How Paul Mainieri found LSU a new opponent after UC Riverside canceled weekend series

About three hours after LSU released its 2021 baseball schedule Tuesday, coach Paul Mainieri received a phone call from UC Riverside and found out the school had to cancel its weekend series against LSU.

The Tigers were scheduled to play UC Riverside the second weekend of the season, from Feb. 26-28. The cancellation forced Mainieri to call schools around the country, trying to find an opponent.

Eventually, Mainieri scheduled games that weekend against Youngstown State and Nicholls State. The coaches of all three teams worked together to form a round-robin at multiple stadiums.

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This all happened as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Before UC Riverside canceled, Mainieri had talked to the school several times.

“They thought for sure they were going to be able to come,” Mainieri said.

But Mainieri said UC Riverside didn’t hold fall practice, won’t start preseason practice until February and can’t play until March, a month after LSU plays its opening game. The series didn’t work.

Not wanting LSU to sit idle for a weekend, Mainieri spent the next 12 hours calling teams across the country. He tried Arizona, but it scheduled another series. He talked to Arizona State, but it wasn’t allowed to travel. He asked Oregon, but the Ducks filled the date before LSU called.

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Youngstown State was scheduled to play a weekend series at Nicholls State and wanted four games. So the coaches formed a new plan: Youngstown State will play noon Friday at Nicholls, then drive to face LSU inside Alex Box Stadium that night.

The next day, LSU will play Youngstown State at 2 p.m. before hosting Nicholls State in the second part of a nine-inning double-header. Youngstown State and Nicholls State will play each other Sunday.

And a few days later, LSU will play Nicholls again, a previously scheduled midweek game.

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