LSU’s familiar purple-and-gold hues will share the spotlight with pink Wednesday when the 12th-ranked Tigers (18-6) square off with ULL (13-10) at 6:30 p.m. at Alex Box Stadium.
The game is billed as the “Pink Game” to honor breast cancer patients, survivors and victims and will feature the Tigers donning pink batting helmets and wrist bands to honor those groups.
Two survivors with close ties to the LSU program – Mary Ann Mahtook and Cathy Mainieri-Gagnon – will throw out the ceremonial first pitches prior to the game.
“We just thought it would be a way to honor some family members,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri, Mainieri-Wagnon’s older brother. “This will make people more aware of it and make sure they get their checkups. … It shows people it’s a very survivable disease as long as you catch it early.”
Cajuns have been a thorn
Since the revival of the series with ULL in 2008, the Cajuns have been as pesky an opponent for LSU as any other in-state foe.
The Tigers and ULL have split the four games and three of the four contests have been decided by one or two runs. The exception was last season when the Cajuns rolled to an 11-5 triumph, their second in three games at the new Box and one of the more lopsided non-conference losses in Mainieri’s six-year tenure.
“ULL has a really good program,” Mainieri said. “They always have and always will. They have a good coach and really good players.”
Added senior Grant Dozar, who grew up down the road in Morgan City and played on the same travel team with Lafayette natives Mikie Mahtook and Taylor Dugas, “In the early 2000s, the rivalry was always a good one to watch. I’m very familiar with the tradition of UL and the history. I'm sure they’ll have a lot of fans here and will want to beat us.”
Not changing roles yet
Sophomore Kurt McCune stepped into a new role in Sunday’s 4-2 win at Auburn, getting the last three outs in the ninth inning to record his first career save.
But the former weekend starter isn’t taking over as the Tigers’ primary closer just yet.
Mainieri said he hasn’t lost any faith in Nick Goody, who has recorded 2 saves this season and has shown a closer’s mentality at times. He struggled at Auburn in the first two games, though, allowing inherited runners to score the winning run in both appearances.
“We’re still going by committee out there and we’ll go with the guy who gives us the best possible option at that moment,” Mainieri said.
Back on the bump
Another sophomore, Joe Broussard, will get his second start of the season Wednesday.
Broussard (2-0) began the game against McNeese State on Feb. 22 and has settled in as a long reliever on the weekends, often the first pitcher out of the bullpen. He threw to only one batter in the Auburn series – walking a batter on four pitches after he took over for Kevin Gausman in a 2-2 tie.
This isn’t expected to be a long stint for Broussard, as Mainieri said he plans on using several pitchers to get his bullpen regulars some work, especially those who didn’t see action at Auburn.
Before the season, Mainieri said he hoped freshman left-hander Cody Glenn would nail down a regular spot as a mid-week starter. But Glenn has struggled in the two game he has started, allowing 12 hits and 7 runs in 5 innings. His ERA in 11.1 innings overall is 5.56.
“I was hoping that Cody Glenn would become the mid-week starter,” Mainieri said. “He hasn’t pitched at a level where I think he could go out there and pitch 5-6 innings and give us a chance to win.”
At some point Mainieri would like Glenn or somebody to carve out a niche as a mid-week starter who can take aim at 5 or 6 innings. Until then, he’s content with piecing innings together.
“It would be nice, but with only having one mid-week game, there is an advantage to using several guys to make sure they get some work,” he said.