What began as one of the more challenging days for a LSU baseball team in recent memory ended without a pitch being thrown or a bat being swung Monday evening.
The Tigers’ scheduled game with Notre Dame to finish off a four-game weekend was wiped out by torrential rains and lightning in Baton Rouge and the looming threat of more bad weather.
Had LSU and the Fighting Irish taken the diamond on a soggy night, the Tigers would have done so in major makeshift fashion.
A stomach virus rolled through the team Sunday night and sent several players to the hospital and left several others out of action.
LSU coach Paul Mainieri said 17 players caught the bug in some form, and 13 would likely have been unavailable to face Notre Dame. The Tigers had nine healthy position players and a limited pitching staff, including scheduled starter Aaron Nola.
|Tyler Hanover was one of the LSU players who would have been healthy enough to play Monday against Notre Dame|
“We had no backup players,” Mainieri said. “None of the eight players not in the lineup were even here. They were all at home sick and in bed. Of the nine starting, (Evan) Powell, (Tyler) Hanover and (JaCoby) Jones were sick (Monday) morning, but they recovered enough that they could play.
“It was going to be a real challenging situation, but it was something those players and I were looking forward to. … We thought we were going to create a memory we could be talking about 20 year from now.”
Instead, the Tigers have two days to try and recover for Wednesday night’s game at home against Northwestern State (6:30 p.m.).
That left Mainieri more disappointed than normal about a rainout.
LSU lost to Notre Dame – Mainieri’s employer for 12 years before he got to Baton Rouge – 7-1 on Sunday.
“I love Notre Dame and cherish every moment I spent there, but it’s a bitter pill to swallow to have lost to them (Sunday), and not getting another shot at them is really frustrating,” he said.
Mainieri said there was no specific diagnosis of the outbreak, and he’s not sure how many of the affected players might still be feeling out of sorts by Wednesday. He’s also not sure if the Tigers are out of the woods as far as new cases – one of his worries was that one of his players wouldn’t make it through Monday’s game.
“As long as we had a healthy catcher, we would’ve figured something out,” Mainieri said, noting that he could have thrust pitchers into duty in the field and in the batter’s box.
Had the game been played the Tigers’ lineup would have been: 1. Jones 2B, 2. Chris Sciambra CF, 3. Mason Katz 1B, 4. Ty Ross C, 5. Jackson Slaid LF, 6. Hanover 3B, 7. Casey Yocom SS, 8. Powell DH, 9. Arby Fields RF.
In response to the wave of illness, Mainieri said the entire baseball complex was disinfected Monday morning, including the offices, locker room, clubhouse and batting cages. Food poisoning was ruled out because not all of the sick players ate the postgame meal.
With the rainout, Nola’s start will be shifted to Wednesday against the Demons. Mainieri said it will be an abbreviated outing to make sure Nola (2-0) is ready for the weekend when the 10th-ranked Tigers (13-3) open SEC play against Mississippi State.
Nola could wind up starting Sunday’s series finale against the Bulldogs because Kurt McCune has struggled in his last three starts.
With the game wiped out and Notre Dame headed out of town Tuesday, there will be an opening for a game on LSU’s schedule. Mainieri said there was no pressing need to fill the spot, although it was announced at Alex Box Stadium that fans could hold onto their tickets to Monday’s game and use them for a makeup game later this season.
“We would like to add a game if we can find a date and an opponent to do it,” Mainieri said.
SEC Pitcher of the Week
Sophomore Kevin Gausman was tabbed the SEC Pitcher of the Week Monday after his performance in a dazzling 6-0 shutout against Michigan last Friday.
In eight innings, Gausman (4-0) allowed only three hits, didn’t walk a batter and struck out a career-high 11 against the Wolverines.
Moving up, staying put
LSU inched up in two of the national polls and dropped in another when they were released Monday.
After having a season-best eight-game winning streak snapped by the loss to Notre Dame, the Tigers are ranked No. 10 by Collegiate Baseball, No. 13 by Baseball America and the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association and No. 16 by USA Today/ESPN.