Laval pleased with pitching versus Hogs

Coming in to the weekend series against Arkansas, the LSU baseball team was hoping for more than just a series win

The Tigers needed long outings from their starting pitchers.  The team got their wish through Clay Dirks and Louis Coleman.


Normal Sunday starter Derik Olvey, midweek starter Michael Bonura, and relievers Daryl Shaffer and Chase Dardar are all out with injuries and muscle soreness.


With these four prominent pitchers nursing injuries, coach Smoke Laval knew his bullpen could not handle the strain if his starters were pulled early in the game.


"We were lucky enough to get two good outings from our pitchers.  They went deep, which is what we needed," catcher Matt Liuzza said about starters Dirks and Coleman


In Friday night's game, Laval only needed to use two pitchers to get the victory from the Razorbacks.  Dirks went 7.2 innings, while Jonathan Wilhite pitched the remaining 1.1 innings in the game.


"We just needed [Dirks] to go deep in the game," Laval said following Friday night's game. "We needed that, especially right now."


Although Dirks ended the game with a no-decision, the outing marks his best performance so far this season.  Dirks said he worked with his pitching coaches to fix some mechanics in his pitching before Friday night's start.  He said he tried to keep stand taller and make his body more effective during his delivery.


Dirks also added that many of his pitching problems this season have come from his mental attitude.


"The focus and intensity is all in the mindset. You just have to make it up in your mind, that you're the best out there," Dirks said. "It doesn't matter who you're facing or what the situation is.


"You just have to believe in yourself, and I guess that's one thing I've been lacking that I didn't lack my freshman year or my sophomore year last year.  I just need to start believing in myself like I did tonight."


Liuzza said he has seen pitchers struggle with the mental focus during a slumping season, but added that Dirks's lengthy outing showed the toughness of the junior pitcher.


"It's hard to do that when you're struggling in the year," Liuzza said. "It's hard to keep coming out. You've got to have a great attitude." 


Liuzza said Dirks's attitude separates him from other pitchers who struggle to get themselves out of mid-season slumps.


"Dirks is always upbeat, always ready to get back out there and do what he can, and that's what you need to get through a slump or a bad year of pitching," Liuzza said.


In Saturday's game, Coleman pitched 7.2 innings while Wilhite and Edgar Ramirez completed the rest of the game.


For Coleman, Saturday's game marks the third longest outing in ten appearances for him this season.  He pitched 8.2 innings in a win against Alabama and eight innings in the victory at Tennessee.


"I was just trying to go long so we don't have to use as many pitchers," Coleman said, "so we can make it last."


Coleman reached the 100 pitch mark in the seventh inning, but told pitching coach Brady Wiederhold he could pitch one more inning. Coleman was pulled with two outs in the eighth inning after surrendering the game tying run.


With Olvey not on the 25 man roster for Sunday, Laval named Daniel Forrer the starter for the third game of the series.


Laval joked that with the injuries to his pitching staff, he would soon have to rely on position players like second baseman J.T. Wise and catcher Robert Lara to take the mound.  Wise got some experience pitching in the fall, and Lara was a pitcher in high school.


Although Wise and Lara might be a stretch to pitch, third baseman Will Harris has made pitching appearances in five games.  In his 6.1 innings of work this season, Harris has a 4.26 ERA and record of 0-1


Laval said that Harris may be called on in future games to pitch some quality innings in close games.


Despite this recent string of bad luck for LSU pitchers, those that are healthy have no fears about developing an injury this season.  Dirks said that while he wants to pitch deep in the game to rest his teammates, he blocks out any thoughts of hurting his arm.


"I can't think about that when I'm on the mound," Dirks said. "If you're around this game long enough and guys pitch long enough, they're going to have some trouble with their arms, whether it's serious or it's just slight."

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