You never get a second chance at a first impression.
Tiger freshmen Kevin Gausman and Kurt McCune sparkled in their LSU debuts against Wake Forest, and they’ll get a shot to follow that up this weekend against Holy Cross.
LSU coach Paul Mainieri will hand the ball to Gausman for Friday’s series opener against the Crusaders. McCune will take the mound Saturday.
“I’ve never really cared much if a kid was a freshman or a senior,” Mainieri said. “I go with the kids that give us the best chance to get the job done.”
It’s safe to say that the lanky duo did their jobs on opening weekend.
Gausman battled through 5 2/3 innings, allowing just two runs and fanning six.
McCune, starting in place of the suspended Tyler Jones on Sunday, dazzled, firing 5 1/3 no-hit innings before allowing an infield single. The right hander one-upped his fellow freshman, striking out seven over six scoreless innings and picking up the win.
The Southeastern Conference named him Pitcher of the Week.
“I had never faced college batters,” said McCune. “For me to go out there and do that in my first outing just showed that I have the ability. This week I’m going to go out more confident.”
For Mainieri, the task remains keeping the youngest arms on the team as confident as the rest.
“My job, as a coach, is to make our players believe they can do anything that they out their mind to,” Mainieri said. “What I keep telling (Gausman and McCune) is that they oughta have confidence because they have great talent. I wouldn’t give them the ball if they didn’t deserve it.”
While Gausman’s debut was a success, he had the luxury of watching from the dugout last Friday as senior Ben Alsup took the hill. This time, he’ll have to face the opponent with almost no preparation. Holy Cross has yet to play a game this season.
“We don’t really know much about them, so Friday is going to be our judging point for what we’re going to do the rest of the weekend,” Gausman said. “It really helped me on Friday, seeing what Ben did, so I’m kind of at a disadvantage (this week). You have to adjust as the game goes on.”
McCune will replicate the routine that was so successful a week ago: watching Gausman.
“I’m going to pay a lot of attention, especially to Kevin,” said McCune. “We have similar styles of pitching. We both come over the top. We’re both tall and lanky. I can learn from batters he faces and what they do with pitches and how I should approach them.”
Gausman and the Tigers take the field at 7 p.m. on Friday. Saturday’s first pitch is set for 3 p.m. Senior Ben Alsup gets the ball Sunday at noon.