Andrew Mitchell (above) is shown in action at Mississippi State.
Auburn, Ala.--Coach Butch Thompson is hoping a change in the pitching rotation will spark a change in the results as the Auburn baseball team heads to Baton Rouge for three games at LSU.
Andrew Mitchell, a former player for the Bayou Bengals, will get the call on the mound for Thursday’s series opener at Alex Box Stadium. The first pitch is scheduled for shortly after 6:30 p.m. CDT and the game will be televised on ESPN2.
Mitchell, a star lefty pitcher for Jesuit High in New Orleans, redshirted at LSU in 2014 and then transferred to Delgado (junior) College in New Orleans where he posted a 7-2 record in 2015. Last year he transferred to Auburn and was 4-4 for the Tigers.
This season the 6-1, 200-pound junior has a 5-2 record in 18 appearances and has started twice. He has a 3.21 ERA in 28 innings. Mitchell has given up 23 hits, walked 12 and struck out 23 batters.
“Because of the rainout (last Friday) and because the two guys (Keegan Thompson and Casey Mize) threw on Saturday, I didn’t want to shorten two days,” Butch Thompson said on the change in the pitching rotation. “I think this gives us the best shot to be able to do that.
“Andrew Mitchell has started for us and I think their two best hitters are left-handed,” Thompson said of LSU’s Greg Deichmann (.333 batting average, 16 homers, 57 RBI) and Antoine Duplantis (.319 batting average, one home run, 42 RBI).
Mitchell is expected to have a large group of friends and family to watch him pitch on Thursday night. Thompson said that could be a good thing, but the lefty needs to make sure it isn’t a distraction. “He just needs to focus on making good pitches and getting us off to a good start,” the coach said.
Mize noted that he expects his teammate will be excited about opening the series on the mound. “Going back home and pitching against those guys, I think it is going to be really special for him,” Mize said. “I think he is really looking forward to it.”
Casey Mize is 6-1 this season and has started 10 games.
Keegan Thompson is scheduled to pitch Friday’s 7 p.m. game with Mize scheduled to throw on Saturday for the noon start. Davis Daniel, the normal game three starter for an SEC series, will pitch out of the bullpen this week.
“We expect Davis to still have a huge factor this weekend and we believe in him,” Thompson said.
Auburn is 32-18 overall and 14-10 in the SEC. LSU is 32-17 and 15-9 in the league.
With Mitchell the starter that means Elliott Anderson is the only left-hander in the bullpen. “He is doing fine and has done some good stuff for us since the Troy game,” Coach Thompson said. “He is really helping the ball club and we need him.”
The head coach is trying to be positive about his team despite its four-game losing streak that was extended with an 8-2 loss on Tuesday night at UAB, the same night LSU lost at home 7-6 to South Alabama.
“We are down to two SEC series and we are playing for something,”?he said. “We couldn’t ask for anything more than that. That will be the message for the team. Every real good ball club goes through some adversity. I?am hoping this does nothing but galvanize our ball club and make it stronger because we really haven’t been through this before. It has been different for us.”