Now just four weeks into the season, Mainieri's statement still stands true. With an 8-6 overall record, the LSU bats are not producing many home runs and they are not pitching well, but they are playing excellent defense.
Unranked LSU has played in many flashes thus far. One day they dominate, the next they are dominated. Mainieri thinks his team has the opportunity to be a great this season, but said it all starts with pitching.
"Anybody that doesn't understand that pitching is the name of the game in this sport, doesn't know this sport," said Mainieri. "It's that simple. Our starting pitcher went out there and pitched great. He gave our team confidence, and they played loose."
The Tigers have been anything but
great on the mound this season. Louis Coleman has done well on the mound. So has
Friday starter Charlie Furbush. But the rotation is nowhere near set with just
one non-conference weekend series remaining against
Mainieri said he was searching for answers Sunday when his Tigers escaped a series sweep by Lipscomb with an 8-4 victory.
That answer was Jared Bradford.
"I didn't decide until 3 a.m. while
trying to sleep," Mainieri said. "I felt it was crucial to get off to a good
Bradford, a transfer from
The junior right-hander was outstanding in his second start of the season, giving up two runs on three hits in 7.1 innings.
"I've never been a strikeout guy,
but today, I guess, was my day," said
"He gets on the mound and goes so fast," center-fielder Jared Mitchell said. "We like it when he is on the mound. He puts batters up and down and gets us off the field."
"He would be a great SEC pitcher," Mainieri said. "It is going to be hard not to put him into the rotation."
Mainieri and the Tigers hope Sunday's win will do the same.
"I like starting and closing," said Bradford, who never closed a game before pitching at LSU. "I like going out and setting the temp, but I also like getting the last out and sealing the win. I would do whatever I had to do to win."
He has two years remaining of
eligibility, but could be drafted early if he continues to dominate. He was the
21st-round selection of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in the 2005 Major League
Baseball Draft and rated the No. 23 JUCO prospect in 2006 by Baseball