Home runs flew out of ballparks in record numbers during the late 1990s of college baseball and no team hit the long ball better than LSU during that span.
It was a different era, of course, and the Gorilla Ball age of college baseball was quickly coined the Geauxrilla Ball era after LSU's onslaught on the home run record books. Between 1996 and 1998, LSU crushed 476 home runs — leading college baseball in the category in each of those seasons — and the 188 the Tigers hit in 1997 is a number that will likely never be matched again.
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Let's take a look back at LSU's (probably!) unbreakable home-run records.
LSU baseball's record-setting home run streak
The 188 home runs hit in the 1997 season is certainly impressive, but LSU also hit a home run in 77 straight games, spanning parts of three seasons from June 8, 1996, to Feb. 21, 1998. In fact, the historic streak started in historic fashion.
Second baseman Warren Morris launched a two-out, two-run game-winning home run in the decisive game over Miami (FL) of the 1996 College World Series. Not only was it the first home run of the Tigers' historic streak, but it was also the first walk-off home run in CWS history to win the national championship. A little added fun fact: Danny Higgins led off the 1997 CWS with an opposite-field home run. So, the Tigers closed and opened consecutive College World Series with bombs.
All in all, the Tigers hit 202 home runs over their record-setting streak. LSU continued to homer into the first six games of the 1998 season, leaving the yard 13 more times before the streak came to an end, with Trey McClure hitting the last home run leading off the eighth inning of that Feb. 21 game.
Home run numbers have declined since changes made to the barrel of the bat prior to the 1999 season, but the Tigers went down swinging. LSU hit eight home runs in the first game of the 1998 College World Series and six more in the second against Mississippi State before being eliminated in two homerless games, just one game shy of a chance to three-peat.
LSU baseball's record-setting 1997 season: The lineup
The Tigers played 70 games in their 1997 national championship season and homered in every single one of them. LSU bombed 188 home runs, an average of 2.69 dingers per game, both are still the all-time mark in the category. The Tigers crushed the mark set by BYU when the Cougars blasted 161 home runs in 1988.
So, how about the players involved?
- Clint Earnhart hit the first home run of the season in the bottom of the third inning of the opening-day win against Baylor.
- Brandon Larson hit his first home run of the season in the eighth inning of the second game. Larson led the team with 40 home runs, one of nine Tigers to reach double-digits in dingers.
- Brad Creese belts a pair of home runs in the third game of the season, the first Tiger with a multi-home run game on the year.
- Creese and Casey Cuntz go back to back in the first inning of the fifth game of the season, the first Tigers to do so on the year. Three innings later, Mike Koerner, Eddy Furniss, and Creese go back to back to back.
- Koerner is the first Tiger to string a three-game home run streak together on the season. Larson would string together two four-game home run streaks, the longest of the season by any Tiger.
Here is a look at the absurd stats from the LSU lineup.
Tap or click on the graphic above to expand.
LSU baseball's record 1997 season by the numbers
We searched the box scores and game log from that monster season and found quite a few interesting numbers.
4.62 — The team ERA by the pitching staff, so it was a good thing the Tigers were bringing all that firepower. No regular starter posted an ERA below 4.10.
7 — The most home runs hit in a game that season, surprisingly only done once. Here's the home run per game breakdown:
- 7 home runs: once
- 6 home runs: twice
- 5 home runs: eight times
- 4 home runs: six times
- 3 home runs: 18 times
- 2 home runs: 16 times
- 1 home run: 19 times
10 — Home runs hit by the Tigers in the four games of the College World Series. On June 1, Larson and Furniss went back-to-back — one of two home runs from Larson on the day — as the Tigers smacked five total home runs, setting the CWS single-game record.
15 — Games into the season until an opponent finally outhomered the Tigers, with Vanderbilt out-blasting them 4-1. LSU still won the game 8-7.
17 — Home runs by Eddy Furniss. While in the 1997 scheme of things — he was tied for third-most in the lineup — it did bring him closer to the all-time SEC home run record, which Furniss set the following season with his 80th blast, a record that still stands today. His teammate Brad Cresse is still second all-time in SEC history with 78. That leaves Furniss and Cresse fourth and sixth on the all-time college baseball list as well.
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18 — Times a Tiger hit multiple home runs in a single game. To no one's surprise, Larson led the way with nine multi-home run games, his last one coming in Omaha on June 1. Creese, Furniss, and Wes Davis each did it twice and McClure, Koerner, and Tom Berhardt did it once.
19 — Consecutive games the Tigers won before finally dropping a game. LSU lost 11-9 to Georgia but won the home run battle 4-1.
40 — Home runs hit by Brandon Larson. Those 40 bombs are still the SEC single-season all-time mark and obviously, the most in a single-season in LSU history.
Here are the home runs for each of the 70 games of the 1997 season.
|Game||Date||Opponent||Home runs hit|
|17||Mar. 11||LA Tech||1|
|18||Mar. 12||Lousiana College||4|
|22||Mar. 18||New Orleans||1|
|26||Mar. 25||LA Tech||6|
|27||Mar. 26||Northeast Lousiana||1|
|31||April 1||Nicholls State||4|
|32||April 2||McNeese State||3|
|33||April 4||South Carolina||1|
|34||April 5||South Carolina||2|
|35||April 6||South Carolina||1|
|37||April 9||Northeast Lousiana||1|
|38||April 12||Mississippi State||2|
|39||April 12||Mississippi State||6|
|40||April 14||Mississippi State||1|
|41||April 15||SW Louisiana||5|
|42||April 16||SE Louisiana||3|
|43||April 18||Ole Miss||5|
|44||April 19||Ole Miss||2|
|45||April 20||Ole Miss||5|
|46||April 22||New Orleans||3|
|47||April 23||Northwestern State||3|
|63||May 24||South Alabama||2|
|64||May 25||Long Beach State||3|
|65||May 26||South Alabama||4|
|66||May 26||South Alabama||4|