And the tweaking paid dividends, just not enough in a 3-2 loss to Mississippi State.
Facing Bulldogs' ace Chris Stratton, LSU coach Paul Mainieri stacked his lineup with his best hitters at the top, three left-handers in the middle and the final three.
That meant Mason Katz and Raph Rhymes sliding down a spot to second and third, respectively, with Tyler Moore, Grant Dozar and Arby Fields providing the middle of the batting order.
Mainieri's adjustment was in reaction to what Stratton did to the Tigers in their first meeting against him: 17 strikeouts, his career-best and the most by an SEC pitcher this season.
"Stratton is really good," Mainieri said. "He's clearly not only one of the best pitchers in the SEC, he's one of the best pitchers in the country. I have a lot of respect for the kid. I just thought we'd try to do something a little different and I just wanted to stack our best hitters together and think that maybe we could have a couple of rallies in the game two separate times against him or scratch out a run or two against him doing that.
"I was hoping (the three lefthanders) might bait (State coach John Cohen) into going to a left-hander and get that kid out of the game. We never got to that point and our lefties didn't really have a great game against him."
The strategy did come into play in the fifth inning when it was Katz who came to the plate with two runners on and two outs. After striking out in his first two at-bats, Katz punched a two-run single to left field on a full-count pitch to even the score 2-2.
Catcher Ty Ross pinch-hit in the ninth inning Wednesday, a surprisingly quick return from an appendectomy on May 12.
Ross struck out looking, but he took a mighty hack at the first pitch he saw from Bulldogs closer Johnathan Holder.
"Obviously he's made tremendous progress," Mainieri said. "He took batting practice (Tuesday and Wednesday), and probably took the two best batting practices he's taken in two years. His bat was quick and he felt great.
"We had him throw to bases and he squatted and actually caught about 10 pitches from Nola. … I know he wants to catch but I can't imagine him catching the entire game. Maybe just a little bit to get his timing back."
Seven LSU pitchers took the mound Wednesday as Mainieri and pitching coach Alan Dunn followed a similar plan to how they approached most mid-week games this season.
And although two of the relievers allowed State's three runs, the Tigers got a solid night from the bullpen for the most part.
Brent Bonvillain allowed a pair of runs in the third inning on four hits and Joe Broussard surrendered the winning run in the sixth inning at the tail end of his 2.2-inning stint.
Other than those two, Kevin Berry and Nick Rumbelow each did their job to record an out and escape an inning, Chris Cotton notched one scoreless frame and Joey Bourgeois finished up with a pair of 1-2-3 innings.
"I thought the bullpen did a really good job (Wednesday)," Mainieri said.
"We won't save anybody now. We're in the loser's bracket. If we lose a game, we're going home. We'll go with Gausman. Everybody will be available. We didn't use (Kurt) McCune and we didn't use (Nick) Goody and then if we're fortunate enough to advance beyond (Thursday), on Friday we'll go with Eades and we'll see where we are at that point."
Around the horn
|Joe Broussard: Takes his first loss despite 2.2 solid innings of work.|