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Pregame: LSU at Ole Miss, Game One

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Jared Poche gets the ball to begin LSU's crucial series with Ole Miss

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK — Jared Poche gets the ball to begin LSU’s crucial series with Ole Miss

OXFORD, Mississippi — The pregame blog will post a few hours before first pitch of each ballgame. Lineups will be added at the bottom when they’re made available. Check back for any additional updates.

  • When: 6:00 p.m. Thursday
  • Where: Swayze Field
  • Rankings: LSU is ranked as high as No. 8 and as low as No. 15. Ole Miss is ranked as high as No. 9 and as low as No. 13.
  • Projected Starters: LSUJr. LHP Jared Poche’ (5-4, 3.26 ERA) vs. Ole Miss Jr. RHP Brady Bramlett (6-2, 2.28 ERA)
  • TV: SEC Network
  • Streaming: Available online at ESPN3.com
  • Radio: LSU Sports Radio Network affiliates; 98.1 FM in Baton Rouge
  • Pre- and postgame coverage: blogs.theadvocate.com/linedrives;theadvocate.com/sports
  • In-game Updates: @Chandler_Rome

Pregame Reading

What to Watch

Who’s on First: Greg Deichmann’s made two errors in his last three games while in a 1-for-16 offensive slump, but Paul Mainieri said Wednesday he’s “still in the mix” to play first base this weekend. Deichmann, who was lifted in favor of Brody Wofford in the seventh inning of Tuesday’s 4-1 loss against Tulane, said it’s been somewhat difficult for him to separate his struggles at the plate when he plays defense. Wofford and Bryce Jordan, who started 14 games at first base earlier in the season, could also start tonight.

Bramlett Ball: Mainieri was surprised to read Ole Miss starter Brady Bramlett’s high strikeout numbers — 71 across 55.1 innings — given that the right-hander relies on what Mainieri termed a “sneaky” fastball. LSU’s hunted, and hit, fastballs very well all season, so if Bramlett keeps that approach, the Tigers could succeed.

And, as has been documented numerous times, LSU does not strike out often. It has just 192 while every other conference team has more than 250.

Poche’s Back Soon: Jared Poche will pitch for a third time this conference season without a full six days rest. In his two starts against Auburn and Texas A&M (both on four days rest), Poche surrendered just three earned runs through 11.1 innings with 11 strikeouts. This start comes on five days rest and on the heels of a seven-run outing against Mississippi State last week.

LINEUPS

LSU

  1. Antoine Duplantis (RF)
  2. Jake Fraley (CF)
  3. Kramer Robertson (SS)
  4. Jordan Romero (C)
  5. Beau Jordan (LF)
  6. Greg Deichmann (1B)
  7. Bryce Jordan (DH)
  8. Chris Reid (3B)
  9. Cole Freeman (2B)

Jared Poche (LHP)

OLE MISS

  1. Errol Robinson (SS)
  2. Ryan Olenek (RF)
  3. Tate Blackman (2B)
  4. J.B. Woodman (CF)
  5. Colby Bortles (3B)
  6. Henri Lartigue (C)
  7. Will Golson (1B)
  8. Michael Fitzsimmons (DH)
  9. Cameron Dishon (LF)

Brady Bramlett (RHP)

 

 

Pregame: LSU at Tulane

LSU and Tulane will play at Turchin Stadium tonight at 6 p.m.

LSU and Tulane will play at Turchin Stadium tonight at 6 p.m.

The pregame blog will post a few hours before first pitch of each ballgame. Lineups will be added at the bottom when they’re made available. Check back for any additional updates.

  • When: 6:00 p.m. Tuesday
  • Where: Turchin Stadium
  • Rankings: LSU is ranked as high as No. 8 and as low as No. 15. Tulane is ranked as high as No. 20 and as low as No. 25.
  • Projected Starters: LSU So. RHP Doug Norman (1-0, 3.26 ERA) vs. Tulane So. RHP J.P. France (3-1, 3.98 ERA)
  • TV: CBS Sports Network
  • Radio: LSU Sports Radio Network affiliates; 98.1 FM in Baton Rouge
  • Pre- and postgame coverage: blogs.theadvocate.com/linedrives;theadvocate.com/sports
  • In-game Updates: @Chandler_Rome

Pregame Reading

What to Watch

Figuring out France: J.P. France threw six shutout innings of four-hit baseball in Tulane’s 7-1 victory against LSU in late March. He will start again, attempting to extend an unbelievable scoreless streak for the Green Wave pitching staff, which has not allowed an earned run in its last 38 innings. France was spotted an early lead in the teams’ first game, meaning he could pitch more aggressive and attack LSU’s hitters from the start.

LSU played from behind in each of its three games against Mississippi State, so starting strong and getting an early lead will be paramount against the streaking staff.

Doug Goes Deep: Paul Mainieri would like to extend Doug Norman longer than any midweek starter this season, while balancing the early series start in Oxford on Thursday. Mainieri said, in a perfect world, Norman would go “three to five innings,” while the staff monitors his pitch count. Norman, who threw two perfect innings on 24 pitches last week against Southeastern, and Russell Reynolds have emerged as veteran long men that are viable weekend options but also fourth starter material.

Tulane Turning for History: Tulane hasn’t swept LSU in the regular season since 2007. A win tonight would change that for the Wave, which is back in three of four national polls.

LINEUPS

LSU

  1. Antoine Duplantis (RF)
  2. Jake Fraley (CF)
  3. Jordan Romero (C)
  4. Beau Jordan (LF)
  5. Kramer Robertson (SS)
  6. Greg Deichmann (1B)
  7. Bryce Jordan (DH)
  8. Chris Reid (3B)
  9. Cole Freeman (2B)

Doug Norman (RHP)

TULANE

  1. Stephen Alemais (SS)
  2. Jake Rogers (C)
  3. Grant Witherspoon (CF)
  4. Jeremy Montalbano (DH)
  5. Lex Kaplan (RF)
  6. Hunter Hope (3B)
  7. Hunter Williams (1B)
  8. Jake Willsey (2B)
  9. Jarret DeHart (LF)

J.P. France (RHP)

LSU baseball Twitter mailbag: you asked about RPI, surprises and Paul Mainieri’s best pitchers

LSU celebrates its 15-2 victory against Missouri, which clinched its first SEC sweep of the season.

LSU enters the home stretch of its SEC season in a three-way tie for second in the West.

The Twitter mailbag will run every Tuesday morning during baseball season, but questions are welcomed throughout the week @Chandler_Rome. Follow along for analysis and coverage throughout the season and, if you feel so inclined, ask away.

LSU replaced eight of nine starters in its batting order and is the SEC’s fourth-highest hitting team at .303. That is, without question, the biggest surprise of the season. Even early on when clutch hitting eluded it, LSU’s offense showed signs of success. At Texas A&M, where the Tigers had baserunners in 23 of 27 innings and had 51 at-bats with runners on base, it was undone by a lack of situational hitting — something that’s now become routine for this suddenly potent offense.

LSU's potent offense has been a surprise this season.

Led by Kramer Robertson in conference play, LSU’s potent offense has been a surprise this season.

Paul Mainieri’s juggled the lineup and dealt with some injuries, but still the offense hums, with wins against Golden Spikes Award candidates Tanner Houck (Missouri) and Kyle Wright (Vanderbilt). Another win against ace Jordan Sheffield (Vanderbilt) and a 12-hit performance against Dakota Hudson (Mississippi State) shows that prestige and velocity don’t deter this lineup, which is still sorting itself out in the middle, but continuing to produce at an eye-opening rate.

The leaders are new faces, too. Freshman Antoine Duplantis is the team’s leading hitter. Kramer Robertson, a junior who had yet to put his entire game together at LSU, is the team’s leading hitter in SEC play. Greg Deichmann and Jordan Romero, both of whom had zero Division I hits entering the season, are tied for the team lead with six home runs.

I’ll actually have a more detailed story on this Wednesday leading into the Ole Miss series, but I’ll give a snippet here to answer. Romero caught both Saturday and Sunday against Mississippi State. Paul Mainieri was asked about it after the series finale on Sunday but remained a bit non-committal about proclaiming an everyday starter.

“(Romero’s) catching has improved greatly,” Mainieri said.  “He’s played these last couple games and I think he’s made a difference. I think he helped (Alex) Lange pitch great (Saturday) night, quite frankly.”

By the written letter, RPI isn’t the sole factor, but it sure does play a big part in the considerations. Remember, RPI takes into account strength of schedule (both in conference and non-conference), road/home wins and wins against other top-tier teams — all of which are combined to determine which eight teams will be national seeds.

LSU is No. 14 in both D1Baseball.com‘s RPI rankings and the official NCAA rankings — the fifth-highest among Southeastern Conference teams. With the SEC’s parity and a lack of other standout teams around the country, buzz has begun to circulate that the SEC could have as many as six host sites when the tournament begins. The conference has produced two national seeds and four host sites in each of the last three seasons.

Paul Mainieri said it best — Valek was pitching “like he can” Sunday, but Mississippi State saw him well. We’ve detailed Valek’s repertoire numerous times and, along with that, said he’s bound to give up hits. Sunday forced Mainieri to act quicker than normal.

“I hated to have such a quick hook on him because he’s pitched so well all year, and he wasn’t pitching poorly,” Mainieri said. “But I just felt that I couldn’t let us get into too big a hole after having lost the first two games kind of in heartbreaking fashion. I just felt Russell Reynolds had a little bit better stuff to let him pitch out of a jam.”

John Valek threw five shutout innings in LSU's 15-1 win in game one.

John Valek’s rocky start wasn’t an indication that he’ll leave the rotation

 

Many of the six hits Valek surrendered were hard-hit balls and it quickly became evident Mississippi State was squaring him up. Moreover, Mainieri had a very rested bullpen after Alex Lange’s complete game on Saturday and trusted Reynolds to take him into the later innings while the offense got on track.

Valek will start the series finale on Saturday against Ole Miss, so no, his job is not in jeopardy. His style of pitching sometimes results in games like Sunday, especially in the SEC.

This is a very good question, Bill. It prompted some research, which uncovered an interesting statistic. LSU’s three everyday outfielders — Beau Jordan, Jake Fraley and Antoine Duplantis — have a combined seven assists this season. Two of those came in LSU’s season-opening win against Cincinnati.

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- LSU right fielder Antoine Duplantis and his fellow outfielders will have opportunities for assists and outs on the basepaths.

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK — LSU right fielder Antoine Duplantis has four of LSU’s seven outfield assists.

That’s a low number through 40 games and it illustrates that LSU’s arms haven’t really been needed or tested much this season. All three are capable of holding runners or limiting them from taking an extra base, but it just hasn’t been required much. Duplantis probably possesses the strongest arm of the bunch.

Earlier in the mailbag, it was asked what’s been the most pleasant surprise. The offense is still the answer, but the lockdown outfield defense is also up there, especially given the departures of Mark Laird and Andrew Stevenson. Jordan’s made the only error among the three everyday outfielders, but has proven he’s more than a capable defender in left field. Fraley and Duplantis, as expected, are two center field-type athletes that lock down the right side.

This is easier than the lineup, thankfully:

  • Friday night: Kevin Gausman
  • Saturday night: Aaron Nola
  • Sunday afternoon: Anthony Ranaudo
  • Midweek starter: Jared Bradford
  • Long relief: Louis Coleman
  • Set-up man: Chris Cotton
  • Closer: Matty Ott

 

LSU’s Kramer Robertson, John Valek III named to award watch lists

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- LSU second baseman Kramer Robertson (3) attempts to tag Sacramento State right fielder Chris Lewis (6) out after the steal at second in the first inning, Friday, February 26, 2016

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK — Kramer Robertson attempts to tag Sacramento State right fielder Chris Lewis  on Friday, February 26, 2016

LSU’s Kramer Robertson was named to the Brooks Wallace Award watch list Monday, given annually to college baseball’s best shortstop.

Former Tigers shortstop Alex Bregman — the No. 2 overall pick in the 2015 MLB Draft — won the award in 2013.

Robertson, a junior, began the season at second base before moving to shortstop eight games into LSU’s season, taking over for Cole Freeman, who moved to second base.

He’s made just six errors in 128 chances at shortstop, good for a .953 fielding percentage as he enjoys the best offensive season of his collegiate career. Robertson’s hitting .320, but has a team-leading .384 average in Southeastern Conference play, adding a .389 clip with runners in scoring position.

The entire Brooks Wallace Award watch list is here.

Valek named to National Pitcher of the Year watch list

LSU lefty John Valek III, an Akron transfer who’s gathered a 6-1 record as the Tigers’ Sunday starter, was named to the National Pitcher of the Year award watch list Monday.

(PATRICK DENNIS)

John Valek was named to the Pitcher of the Year watch list on Monday. (PATRICK DENNIS)

The award, like the Brooks Wallace Award, is presented by the College Baseball Hall of Fame. Both awards will be given July 2 in Lubbock, Texas.

Though he’s off his shortest outing of the year against Mississippi State, Valek has a 3.78 ERA in 52.1 innings, where he’s walked just seven and struck out 40. His 1.20 WHIP is the lowest among LSU’s weekend rotation.

Arriving in Baton Rouge after Akron disbanded its baseball program, Valek’s solidified his role as a reliable third weekend starter, something the program hasn’t had in the last two seasons.

The entire National Pitcher of the Year watch list is here

Poll Speak Monday

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- Kramer Robertson is congratulated after hitting a solo home run in the sixth inning of LSU's 11-8 win over Mississippi State on Sunday.

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS — Kramer Robertson is congratulated after hitting a solo home run in the sixth inning of LSU’s 11-8 win over Mississippi State on Sunday.

Each Monday, you can track LSU’s movement in college baseball’s major polls here. Check back for frequent updates as polls are released throughout the day.

Coming off a rain-filled, 11-4 midweek win against Southeastern Louisiana, LSU dropped two of three to Mississippi State to finish the week 2-2 and remain in a three-way tie for second in the SEC West.

Polls (Last week’s ranking in parenthesis)

Baseball America 8 (5)

Perfect Game 15 (13)

D1Baseball.com 11 (10)

Collegiate Baseball 15 (15)

USA Today Coaches Poll 13 (7)

NCBWA 11 (8)

RPI

WarrenNolan.com 14

NCAA 14

The Week that Was

On Deck

  • LSU at Tulane, 6:00 p.m., Tuesday (CBS Sports Network)
  • LSU at Ole Miss, 6:00 p.m., Thursday (SEC Network)
  • LSU at Ole Miss, 6:30 p.m., Friday (SEC Network-Plus)
  • LSU at Ole Miss, 11:00 a.m., Saturday (ESPN2)

Pregame: LSU vs. Mississippi State, Game Three

Chris Reid reacts incredulously to Greg Deichmann's gaffe in Saturday's 2-1 loss. LSU will have to play more mentally sound baseball on Sunday

Chris Reid reacts incredulously to Greg Deichmann’s gaffe in Saturday’s 2-1 loss. LSU will have to play more mentally sound baseball on Sunday

The pregame blog will post a few hours before first pitch of each ballgame. Lineups will be added at the bottom when they’re made available. Check back for any additional updates.

  • When: Noon, Sunday
  • Where: Alex Box Stadium
  • Rankings: LSU is ranked as high as No. 5 and as low as No. 15. Mississippi State is ranked as high as No. 5 and as low as No. 13.
  • Projected Starters: LSU Sr. LHP John Valek III (6-1, 3.42 ERA) vs. Mississippi State TBA
  • TV: ESPN2
  • Streaming: Accessible on ESPN3.com
  • Radio: LSU Sports Radio Network affiliates; 98.1 FM in Baton Rouge
  • Pre- and postgame coverage: blogs.theadvocate.com/linedrives;theadvocate.com/sports
  • In-game Updates: @Chandler_Rome

Series Update

What to Watch

No Margin for Error: It was stated here yesterday and it’ll be even more prevalent today — LSU must play fundamentally sound, smart baseball. John Valek III is pitching, and as we’ve chronicled before, he relies heavily on his defense behind him. The Tigers played better Saturday than Friday’s three-error game, but one mental mistake loomed large in the 2-1 loss. LSU’s error this series haven’t been blatant misplays. Instead, it’s been a lack of concentration for fractions of  a second — all that’s needed to unravel a tight SEC game.

Bats Back? For the first time in at least its last three conference series, LSU’s bats were dormant Saturday, handcuffed by Austin Sexton’s bevy of offspeed pitches. The Tigers looked off-balance and were unable to adjust after a time or two through the order, getting only five hits against the right-hander. Mississippi State’s starter is still TBA, so the Tigers aren’t sure what they’ll face, but they need to attack whoever it is early, especially with Valek on the mound.

 

 

Pregame: LSU vs. Mississippi State, Game Two

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Bryce Jordan celebrates Chris Reid's RBI single during Friday's 12-8 loss

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK — Bryce Jordan celebrates Chris Reid’s RBI single during Friday’s 12-8 loss

The pregame blog will post a few hours before first pitch of each ballgame. Lineups will be added at the bottom when they’re made available. Check back for any additional updates.

  • When: 6:00 p.m. Saturday
  • Where: Alex Box Stadium
  • Rankings: LSU is ranked as high as No. 5 and as low as No. 15. Mississippi State is ranked as high as No. 5 and as low as No. 13.
  • Projected Starters: LSU So. RHP Alex Lange (4-2, 4.88 ERA) vs. Mississippi State Jr. RHP Austin Sexton (3-2, 3.96 ERA)
  • TV: ESPNU
  • Streaming: Accessible on ESPN3.com
  • Radio: LSU Sports Radio Network affiliates; 98.1 FM in Baton Rouge
  • Pre- and postgame coverage: blogs.theadvocate.com/linedrives;theadvocate.com/sports
  • In-game Updates: @Chandler_Rome

About Last Night

What to Watch

Getting Defensive: After 27 innings of error-free baseball during its sweep of Missouri, LSU’s committed four errors in its last 18 innings, not including the passed ball strike three that began Mississippi State’s eighth-inning rally last night. Two of the four were baffling mental lapses — Cole Freeman’s drop of an easy flip on a 6-4-3 double play ball and Mike Papierski overthrowing Jared Poche while tossing the ball back after a pitch. To this point in its SEC schedule, LSU’s played with inordinate poise for such a young team. It can’t afford to stray away from that.

Lange on the Line: Alex Lange will pitch with a series on the line for the second time this SEC season. His first was a 6.1-inning, two-run masterpiece in College Station that ended with his middle infielders hugging him as he exited the mound. LSU won that game, 3-2, and hopes to replicate that feat tonight. As has been detailed endlessly, Lange will need to throw his curveball for strikes early in counts and, more importantly, command his fastball better than he’s been doing.

Sexton’s Start: Austin Sexton was questionable at the beginning of the week with a hamstring injury, but he’ll make his regularly scheduled start tonight. Sexton’s been hit around a bit this season — opponents are batting .283 against him in 52.1 innings — but he’s only allowed 16 extra-base hits.

Championship Coronation: LSU will honor the 1996 national championship team prior to the game. The team memorably defeated Miami 9-8 in the College World Series finals on Warren Morris’ walk-off home run.

LINEUPS

LSU

  1. Antoine Duplantis (RF)
  2. Jake Fraley (CF)
  3. Jordan Romero (C)
  4. Greg Deichmann (1B)
  5. Kramer Robertson (SS)
  6. Bryce Jordan (DH)
  7. Chris Reid (3B)
  8. Brennan Breaux (LF)
  9. Cole Freeman (2B)

Alex Lange (RHP)

MISSISSIPPI STATE

  1. Jake Magnum (CF)
  2. Jack Kruger (DH)
  3. Nathaniel Lowe (1B)
  4. Reid Humphreys (LF)
  5. Brent Rooker (RF)
  6. Elih Marrero (C)
  7. Gavin Collins (3B)
  8. Ryan Gridley (SS)
  9. Hunter Stovall (2B)

Austin Sexton (RHP)

Pregame: LSU vs. Mississippi State, Game One

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Eddy Furniss, modeling the gold jersey LSU will wear all weekend, will have his number retired this evening. (Advocate file photo)

The pregame blog will post a few hours before first pitch of each ballgame. Lineups will be added at the bottom when they’re made available. Check back for any additional updates.

  • When: 7:00 p.m. Friday
  • Where: Alex Box Stadium
  • Rankings: LSU is ranked as high as No. 5 and as low as No. 15. Mississippi State is ranked as high as No. 5 and as low as No. 13.
  • Projected Starters: LSU Jr. LHP Jared Poche’ (5-3, 2.63 ERA) vs. Mississippi State Jr. RHP Dakota Hudson (4-3, 2.08 ERA)
  • TV: None
  • Streaming: SEC Network-Plus, accessible on ESPN3.com
  • Radio: LSU Sports Radio Network affiliates; 98.1 FM in Baton Rouge
  • Pre- and postgame coverage: blogs.theadvocate.com/linedrives;theadvocate.com/sports
  • In-game Updates: @Chandler_Rome

Pregame Reading

What to Watch

Another Ace: Eight SEC pitchers are on the Golden Spikes Award midseason watch list released this week. LSU has faced three of them and gets a fourth tonight in Mississippi State ace Dakota Hudson. LSU lost to Alabama’s Geoffrey Bramblett in its conference opener but has since beaten Missouri ace Tanner Houck and Vanderbilt’s Kyle Wright, employing the same tactic each time. Andy Cannizaro instructs hitters to hunt the fastball, which the Tigers will likely do tonight against Hudson, who will sit 92-96 mph with the fastball and around 90 with a cutter that’s gotten him 67 strikeouts in 60.2 innings. LSU hasn’t been daunted by velocity or prestige in the last two weeks and it’s conceivable to think tonight would be no different.

Saving the Strikeouts: LSU’s lack of strikeouts has been detailed in other pregame blogs, but Mississippi State enters Baton Rouge with the second-fewest in the conference (229), trailing only the Tigers (168).

All Gold Everything: Usually reserved for Sundays, the gold jerseys will be worn all weekend in Alex Box Stadium, an ode to the 1996 national championship team that’s celebrating a 20-year reunion this weekend. That 1996 team wore the gold throughout its postseason run, which ended with Warren Morris’ walk-off home run in the national championship game.

Furniss Honored: Eddy Furniss — a ‘big guy who stood over at first base and waited his turn to hit — will have his jersey will be retired prior to tonight’s game.

LINEUPS

LSU

  1. Antoine Duplantis (RF)
  2. Jake Fraley (CF)
  3. Greg Deichmann (1B)
  4. Kramer Robertson (SS)
  5. Beau Jordan (LF)
  6. Bryce Jordan (DH)
  7. Chris Reid (3B)
  8. Mike Papierski (C)
  9. Cole Freeman (2B)

Jared Poche (LHP)

MISSISSIPPI STATE

  1. Jake Mangum (CF)
  2. Gavin Collins (3B)
  3. Reid Humphreys (LF)
  4. Brent Rooker (RF)
  5. Nathaniel Lowe (1B)
  6. Jack Kruger (DH)
  7. Ryan Gridley (SS)
  8. Elih Marrero (C)
  9. Hunter Stovall (2B)

Dakota Hudson (RHP)

 

 

Pregame: LSU vs. Southeastern

Jameson Fisher enters Wednesday's game with the nation's highest batting average.

Jameson Fisher enters Wednesday’s game with the nation’s highest batting average.

 The pregame blog will post a few hours before first pitch of each ballgame. Lineups will be added at the bottom when they’re made available. Check back for any additional updates.

  • When: 6:30 p.m. Wednesday
  • Where: Alex Box Stadium
  • Rankings: LSU is ranked as high as No. 5 and as low as No. 15. Southeastern is not ranked.
  • Projected Starters: LSU So. RHP Doug Norman (0-0, 3.86 ERA) vs. Southeastern Sr. RHP Pat Cashman (3-2, 4.91 ERA)
  • TV: None
  • Streaming: SEC Network-Plus, accessible on ESPN3.com
  • Radio: LSU Sports Radio Network affiliates; 98.1 FM in Baton Rouge
  • Pre- and postgame coverage: blogs.theadvocate.com/linedrives;theadvocate.com/sports
  • In-game Updates: @Chandler_Rome

Pregame Reading

What to Watch

Don’t Overlook: The pitfalls of being young have been detailed at length with this LSU baseball team. A new one’s emerged recently — the Tigers overlooking midweek opponents after huge SEC weekends. LSU’s been “embarrassed” in two losses to Tulane and McNeese State where it was outscored 14-1. A loud, energetic team meeting was held following the McNeese loss where hitting coach Andy Cannizaro — not normally a yeller — “lit into” the team, Kramer Robertson said. Paul Mainieri’s changed up the practice style leading into this game, too, in hopes of breaking these midweek blues.

Wholestaff on Jameson: LSU will piece together the game much like it does with all its midweek tussles. This time, though, it will face the Jameson Fisher — the nation’s leading hitter and Southeastern’s first baseman. Giving him a variety of looks could be advantageous, but Fisher hits .462 for a reason. He’ll find a way on base (his on-base percentage is .587, also first in the country) but limiting what those around him do is crucial.

LINEUPS

LSU

  1. Antoine Duplantis (RF)
  2. Jake Fraley (CF)
  3. Jordan Romero (C)
  4. Greg Deichmann (1B)
  5. Kramer Robertson (SS)
  6. Beau Jordan (LF)
  7. Bryce Jordan (DH)
  8. Chris Reid (3B)
  9. Cole Freeman (2B)

Doug Norman (RHP)

SOUTHEASTERN

  1. Brennan Breaud (SS)
  2. Daniel Midyett (DH)
  3. Jameson Fisher (1B)
  4. Carson Crites (2B)
  5. Drew Avans (LF)
  6. Ryan Byers (RF)
  7. Chris Eades (C)
  8. Jacob Seward (CF)
  9. Taylor Schwaner (3B)

Pat Cashman (RHP)

 

LSU baseball Twitter mailbag: you asked about hosting a regional and nine-out saves

BX134_3A67_9

Jordan Romero’s been a power source of the resurgent LSU offense

The Twitter mailbag will run every Tuesday morning during baseball season, but questions are welcomed throughout the week @Chandler_Rome. Follow along for analysis and coverage throughout the season and, if you feel so inclined, ask away.

The short answer — yes. LSU, with an RPI of 13,  has played itself squarely onto the bubble to host a regional. Ultimately, only the Tigers themselves control whether or not postseason baseball comes to Baton Rouge, but other SEC teams and the national landscape also play a factor.

If history is any indication, the SEC will likely get a maximum of five host sites, but an intriguing scenario develops when national seeds are discussed. In each of the past three seasons, two SEC teams have received top-8 national seeds (guaranteed home-field advantage through the regional and super regional, should it advance). A total of four SEC teams hosted in each of those three years, including the two national seeds.

LSU celebrated Monday with a victory lap. (HILARY SCHEINUK)

After playing its way onto the hosting bubble, LSU could take a victory lap at home this season. (HILARY SCHEINUK)

So, if this season plays out like the previous three and two SEC teams are awarded national seeds, there are conceivably two other host slots to obtain. Halfway through the season, Florida, Vanderbilt, Texas A&M, South Carolina, Mississippi State and LSU can all make cases to either be a national seed or host. That’s six teams for four spots.

Paul Mainieri said Monday he believes it’ll be his team’s midweek games that could be the difference between hosting and traveling. LSU’s midweek schedule is unusually strong this season — its three losses have come to teams with RPIs greater than 65 — and it has wins over RPI No. 15 (UL-Lafayette) and 57 (UNO).

Remember, though, LSU and those five other teams still have 15 SEC  games (some head-to-head). There’s still a lot to sort out, but LSU has given itself a viable chance to be a host.

Prior to getting on the bus for the Missouri series, Paul Mainieri was asked if he switched the two in order to create an Alex Lange-Tanner Houck matchup in Columbia. He said that was not his reasoning and added later “we’ll probably keep it how it is now.” So, yes, Jared Poche will remain on Friday and Lange on Saturday. Mainieri reiterated the obvious — Poche’s been in a consistent, nice groove in the last three weeks (all series-opening starts) and LSU is 7-2 in SEC games in that span. He did not want to interrupt that.

These are some quality numbers that reinforce what Jordan Romero said after the series finale against Auburn.

“Quite frankly, I think I hit better when I’m catching,” said Romero, who caught every inning of the Auburn series but the first four. “You’re locked into the game; you can’t slip up on anything. I’m just really locked in.”

 Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- LSU catcher Jordan Romero (28) looks for the sign as the Tigers take on Ball State, Friday, March 11, 2016, at LSU's Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field in Baton Rouge, La.


Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK — LSU catcher Jordan Romero (28) looks for the sign as the Tigers take on Ball State, Friday, March 11, 2016, at LSU’s Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field in Baton Rouge, La.

Romero caught a game against Missouri and had a four-hit day. This came after he made adjustments with his swing following perhaps his poorest offensive stretch of the season — a stretch where Mainieri gave him some starting nods.

We’ve detailed this at length, but Mike Papierski remains a bit more seasoned in catching’s intricacies than Romero. Mainieri likes how Papierski catches both Jared Poche and Alex Lange — both guys he’s has had an extra year to work with and get acclimated to. Papierski’s also seemed to recover from his benching against Auburn for what Mainieri termed a “lack of effort” and has impressed the coaching staff defensively in the last three weeks.

Romero, though, has gotten at least one game behind the plate in two of the last three SEC series and that may continue going forward.

Let’s remember that these are two juniors whose tendencies, limitations and repertoires Paul Mainieri knows very well. Bugg had an 11-out, 62-pitch save against Auburn two weeks prior to his Missouri outing. He’s a veteran and Mainieri’s trusted him to go long before. That was not a surprise.

Newman, on the other hand, was supposed to be given ‘strong consideration’ for a ninth-inning look after Caleb Gilbert’s rocky Vanderbilt series. It was a tad surprising to see Mainieri go to Newman that early in the game, but it’s abundantly clear he’s emerged as one of the select relievers the coach trusts with a game on the line. Mainieri was blunt — he felt that if LSU scored six runs against Missouri Friday night starter Reggie McClain, it should win the game. He said he went “all in” with the pitcher who gave him the best chance.