Jared Poché will stay in the Friday night role with freshman Alex Lange following him on Saturday. Though many have argued the time is now for Lange to assume the opening role, Paul Mainieri thinks differently.
“We’re constantly evaluating our team, and what we think is best,” he said. “I’m not saying that something down the road couldn’t happen at some point. But this is not the time for it. I’m 100 percent confident in that.”
The calls for Lange come after another weekend in which he dazzled on the mound. The freshman threw seven innings of one-run ball, surrendering just four hits in the process. He added six more strikeouts to his total, which now stands at 45 in 38 total innings pitched.
“Not making a change is not a reflection on Alex Lange,” Mainieri said. “He’s very capable of pitching on Friday nights. The guy’s awesome.”
Though Lange found success in Fayetteville, Poché struggled. He turned in his worst outing of the season, lasting only 3 2/3 innings. He gave up five runs, all earned, on 10 hits with two walks.
“They were just on him,” Mainieri said. “He wasn’t making the pitches, didn’t have the command he usually has…But in no way am I going to give any kind of perception that I’m down on Jared Poché. He had one bad game. He’ll be the first to admit he was not on the top of his game.”
That one bad outing hasn’t cost Poché his spot on Friday nights. And he’ll get an opportunity to make Arkansas a distant memory this weekend.
“I have a strong sense he’ll bounce back and give us a typical Jared Poché performance,” Mainieri said. “I’ve not lost one ounce of confidence in him. He’s our leader, and he’ll pitch again opening night this weekend.”
NO. 1 LSU (21-3) VS. Tulane (17-7)
WHEN/WHERE: Tuesday, 6:30 p.m. - Turchin Stadium, New Orleans
TV: Cox Sports Television
RHP Russell Reynolds (1-0, 3.38 ERA) vs. RHP Patrick Duester (3-1, 0.39 ERA)
No. 1 LSU returns to Turchin Stadium on Tuesday for a midweek road game against Tulane. The Green Wave got the best of LSU last year on their home grounds, beating the Tigers 3-2 in 11 innings.
LSU won the three previous meetings in Turchin Stadium, including a 14-1 beatdown in 2013.
Tulane’s off to a hot start though in 2015 under new coach David Pierce. The Green Wave dropped a road series against UC-Irvine this past weekend, but are still winners in five of their last seven games.
Tulane’s also undefeated this year against in-state opponents.
“[Coach Pierce has] come in and done a tremendous job, infused a lot of energy into the program,” Mainieri said. “Their staple is pitching, and they’ve won several games late, rallying and winning in extra innings. I’m sure that’s built a lot of confidence in their team, and they’re probably feeling pretty good about themselves.”
Tulane enters the game with a 1.89 team ERA, good for third nationally. Junior college transfer Patrick Duester will take the mound, sporting a 0.34 ERA of his own. He’s surrendered only one earned run in 26 1/3 innings of work with 20 strikeouts and nine walks.
LSU will counter with Russell Reynolds, who will make his third consecutive midweek start. He was limited to 60 pitches last week against Southern, but Mainieri said they hope to extend him a bit further this time. He could go at least five innings if he’s pitching well, as he continues to lock down the midweek role moving forward.
HOMECOMING FOR CANNIZARO
LSU hitting coach Andy Cannizaro will return to his old stomping grounds Tuesday when the Tigers face Tulane.
Cannizaro’s one of the most decorated athletes in Tulane baseball history. He was a four-year starter at shortstop and helped lead the Green Wave to the College World Series in 2001. He was inducted to the Tulane Athletics Hall of Fame in 2007 and is the all-time leader in games played (248), at-bats (1,030), hits (350), doubles (85) and stolen bases (128).
“We’re wondering what kind of reaction he’ll get when he goes out there. Are they going to cheer him or jeer him?” Mainieri said jokingly. “I’d think they’d cheer him because he’s probably the greatest player in Tulane baseball history.”
Mainieri said he has had discussions with Cannizaro about handling the emotions that come with returning home.
“I told him it’s going to be weird for him tomorrow,” Mainieri said. “He has to prepare for that. It’s very strange, because when you immerse yourself in a program, it becomes a part of your life. And I don’t ever want him to divorce himself from that…
“But now he’s got another chapter, where he’s a coach at LSU. His loyalty now is to the players and coaches he’s working with. He understands how to keep that all in proper perspective.”
Freshman Greg Deichmann was a full participant in practice Monday for the first time this season. He’s working his way back to the field after a stress fracture in his foot delayed his debut. Deichmann did get an at-bat last week against Southern, and Mainieri’s hopeful that he’ll continue progressing from there.
Chris Sciambra will get another start Tuesday against Tulane. The senior entered the lineup in two games against Arkansas as the designated hitter, going 5-for-10 at the plate with four RBI.
LSU is the near consensus No. 1 team in the country after its 21-3 start. The Tigers are No. 1 according to five polls (NCBWA, Coaches, D1Baseball, Baseball American and Perfect Game). LSU is No. 2 in the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper rankings.