LSU baseball coach Paul Mainieri has had a couple of weeks unlike any in his career. It’s been fun, too.

After he announced his retirement, effective at the end of the season, the Tigers have gone on to play in the SEC Tournament, and extended their season by winning a regional in Eugene, Oregon.

Now LSU will play Tennessee (48-16) which swept the Knoxville Regional in three games, while Mainieri’s Tigers rallied after an opening-round loss to claim the Eugene Regional.

“The regular season is really a grind, and I’ve been laboring over my personal decision for several months, I really started thinking about it really before this season began,” he told reporters before heading to Tennessee for a Super Regional. “When I came to my conclusion, and then I had my conversation with Scott and made the announcement the next day, I felt a great sense of relief, really. And then when we got into the postseason, even the SEC Tournament, even though it didn’t go well for us, but certainly when we got into the NCAA Tournament, I just figured, hey, I’m going to enjoy it.”

Being in Eugene was a different experience from what he’s enjoyed his entire life.

“And when I put the uniform on in the hotel, I didn’t know if it was going to be the last time I put the uniform on,” he said. “When you’ve done it your whole life, I’m going to be 64 years old this summer, and I can’t remember not putting a uniform on in my lifetime. So every time I put it on in Eugene, it was pretty emotional for me. I just said we’ll go to the field and enjoy this day. It might be the last time I wear a uniform. I told the kids after we win, ‘I said, man, you guys won’t let me retire, you won’t let me fade off into the sunset. You’re making me work, but I’m happy to do it, let’s keep doing it.’ Maybe we’ll be fortunate enough that they’ll make me work another week or two even after this weekend.”

The Vols and Tigers open Saturday (7 p.m. ET, ESPN2). They will play at either noon or 3 p.m. Sunday (ESPNU or ESPN2). If necessary, UT and LSU would play at either 4 or 7 p.m. Monday (ESPN2 or ESPNU).

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