It became evident on Monday night that Louis Coleman was just a bit off – giving up five solo home runs to a team not quite known for the long ball.
“Louis had a really hard time controlling the zone,” said LSU pitching coach David Grewe. “The way the umpire called the game early, Louis was not getting to advantage counts. They sat on fastballs and forced him to throw it over the plate instead of spotting it on the corners.
“We just tried to ride him as long as we could with his pitch count.”
When DJ LeMahieu hit a home run in the seventh to pull LSU within one run, the senior right-hander’s time on the hill looked to extend just a bit longer.
“We were going to put Daniel Bradshaw in, and all the sudden we got that hit,” Grewe said. “We decided to throw Louis out there for one more to give us the chance to turn the lineup over.”
When Coleman gave up another home run in the bottom of the frame, Grewe knew that getting to the ninth without burning up his big arms would be tricky.
His answer: the LSU “secret weapon.”
“I told Paul [Mainieri] to go with [Chad] Jones,” Grewe said. “It was just left on left against the 1, 3 and 4 hitters in their lineup. His success was key for us. Jones just had a huge outing, and it bridged the gap.
“[Paul] Bert [Bertuccini] tossed the shutout inning, and then we had Matty [Ott].”
Using Jones instead of Austin Ross or Bradshaw – who both went to the pen to warm up – “was not a tough call,” according to Grewe.
“Jones was ready for that moment,” Grewe said. “The kid had fair caught a ball his freshman season on the 50-yard line against Florida with 90,000 fans bearing down on him. He had been there before, and that is why I wanted him out there.”
Ross, who saved his stuff for Tuesday night’s affair, will get the start – but where does that leave Anthony Ranaudo, who would be pitching on four day’s rest?
“Ranaudo wants the ball,” Grewe said. “Right now, I think the thing for us is to save him for Wednesday in case we need him. Or, he could go out in the last two innings with the lead. We used Matty, and I don’t think he will be ready to go [Tuesday].”
Could the sophomore right-hander see time any earlier than the late innings?
“I am not sure on that,” Grewe said. “It will be his bullpen day, so he could go out and give us an extended bullpen. I don’t know if it is a 6-7-8-9 thing though, because I would like to use him for just those two innings.
“I don’t want to burn him up and not have him on Wednesday.”