LSU moves Austin Bain to weekend rotation

LSU freshman Austin Bain will likely replace Jake Godfrey in the Tigers' rotation starting this weekend against Auburn

After a pair of rough outings by Jake Godfrey, fellow freshman Austin Bain is poised to join the rotation this weekend against Auburn.

Godfrey failed to get out of the second inning in consecutive weeks after recording just one out Saturday against Alabama. He’s surrendered eight earned runs in his last two starts, lasting only 2 combined innings.

That’s forced LSU coach Paul Mainieri to make a change.

“I’m pretty sure that Austin Bain will move in to the rotation for us,” Mainieri said. “At this point, that’s what we’re thinking…The tentative plan is to put Bain in the rotation next weekend.”

Mainieri didn’t want to write his name in stone so early in the week. Bain did take a liner off the foot Saturday, and Mainieri also wanted to see how his arm responded to throwing a career-high 93 pitches. Bain did say he’s ready to go, but Mainieri will approach it cautiously over the next few days.

His performance against the Tide should have the LSU coaches feeling pretty confident that he can handle it.

Bain entered in relief for Godfrey with the bases loaded and four runs already scored in the first inning. He escaped that jam without allowing any more damage and finished with 6 2/3 scoreless innings of work, surrendering three hits and striking out nine.

That effort earned him Co-SEC Freshman of the Week honors.

“Austin Bain pitched just unbelievably out of the bullpen,” Mainieri said. “He really saved our pen as well as gave us a chance to win. It was a tremendous performance.”

Bain, a Dutchtown alumnus, came to LSU a two-way player but started working exclusively on the mound in the preseason. He’s made 12 appearances this year out of the bullpen, boasting a 2.45 ERA in 22 innings with 25 strikeouts and 8 walks.

“I’m ready to show what I can do,” Bain said of getting his first start. “Nothing changes. I’m just going to try to keep the same mindset when I go out there.”

Mainieri hasn’t closed the door on Godfrey though. He’ll get a chance at redemption Wednesday when he starts against Northwestern State.

“I still think the world of the kid,” Mainieri said. “He’s got a lot of talent and a bright future. He’s going to be an outstanding pitcher at LSU. But he’s got to get back on the horse right away.”

Godfrey seemingly turned a corner in his final outing before the start of SEC play. He went a season-high 7 innings and earned the win against Nebraska on March 8. He also picked up victories in each of his first two SEC starts, but the wheels fell off two weekends ago.

Godfrey lasted just 1 2/3 innings against Kentucky on March 29, surrendering four runs on six hits. Those struggles carried into his start against Alabama, when he managed to retire only one of the eight batters he faced.

“He’s just struggling right now,” Mainieri said. “We’ve got it analyzed pretty well, and we’re working with him. Hopefully he’s going to be able to get back and start pitching well again for us.”

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