Digesting the loss: Mainieri discusses his lineup changes, lack of offense in first defeat

By now, you know that LSU lost its first game of the season Tuesday, a 4-1, rain-shortened defeat to Louisiana-Lafayette.

The Tigers struggled to find their hitting rhythm, failed at the plate in key opportunities and allowed the leadoff guy on base far too many times.

They had a freshman, Kramer Robertson, make some rookie mistakes, too.

Kramer Robertson was thrown out at the plate and then ran into the umpire. (Heather McCleland | The Advocate)

Kramer Robertson was thrown out at the plate and then ran into the umpire. (Heather McCleland | The Advocate)

Coach Paul Mainieri gave his take on all of this minutes after the halted game was called final.

  • Mainieri started three players in positions they hadn’t started in this season: Conner Hale at first, Sean McMullen in left and Mark Laird in right. Robertson took Hale’s spot at second. Why the changes? Robertson’s sparkling play over the first two weeks, for one, Mainieri said. He had a .429 average entering the game and had made a handful of web gems. Right fielder Jared Foster’s struggles at the plate (.130 average) is behind the outfield shifting.
  • Robertson had a base-running blunder (he came home instead of reading third-base coach Will Davis’ stop signal) and bobbled and then kicked a grounder for an error. So what’d Mainieri think of Robertson? Here’s the full comment on the freshman, the son of Baylor women’s basketball coach Kim Mulkey:

The first two games, Kramer played I thought he was a real spark plug for us. I think Conner Hale’s a really good ballplayer. I thought he was doing a great job as well. I thought Kramer had a little bit more range. He’s done some spunky things for us.

Unfortunately, tonight we saw the positives and the negatives of Kramer. Gets hit by a pitch. Reads a dirt ball and takes second base. Once again, he’s starting to light up and he runs without his eyes up. I remember the first day he got here on campus and I talked to the team about base-running and I said, ‘Rule No. 1 is run with your eyes up. You don’t have to look at your feet. I promise you, you’re feet are still going to be there. You don’t have to watch them run.’

If you’re not watching the game, you can’t react what happens. He was determined to score on that ball. The problem is it never got out of the infield.

That’s why I was waiting to put Robertson in. You saw a routine ball he kicked and a base-running mistake. I’ve seen him do those things in practice. That’s the inexperience of the player. I wanted to see how he’d perform under the brighter lights. Did some good stuff, did some bad stuff.

Kade Scivicque could remain in LSU's lineup. (Catherine Threlkeld | The Advocate)

Kade Scivicque could remain in LSU’s lineup. (Catherine Threlkeld | The Advocate)

  • Meanwhile, the outfield: It sounds like the outfield lineup might be here to stay for a bit. Mainieri shifted McMullen from DH to left field and inserted Kade Scivicque into the DH spot. Scivicque has hit some hard ones and Mainieri sounds impressed by him. Meanwhile, Foster has, at least for now, lost his spot in the lineup. Mainieri on those doings:

I thought Kade Scivicque has been a real tough out for us. I wanted to get him in the lineup. I thought the way to do it was put Hale at first and DH Scivicque.

Jared Foster, I started the season with the idea he’d get a shot as our right fielder. Unfortunately, in these first seven games, he just hasn’t been performing the way we’d hope he would. I talked to him and told him he’s going to have to wait his turn now.

By putting McMullen in the outfield, frees up the DH spot which allowed me to play Scivicque as well.

We’ll see. The returns weren’t great tonight, but we’ll re-evaluate it all. I kind of liked the way it looked out there, except they didn’t play all that great the first five innings of the game.

  • Lastly, Mainieri showed his usual frustration for the current state of college baseball’s offense. The new bats have somewhat stripped offense from the game. Mainieri launched into the rant when speaking about Scivicque’s second-inning flyout to right. The screamer made a loud crack off the bat and many in the stands leaped to their feet. The right fielder nabbed it well in play, though. Either way, Mainieri knows his team (batting .286) needs to do better at the plate and end its flyball tendencies.

I thought Scivicque had at least one really good at-bat. It culminated in a lazy flyball. Probably thought he hit it good, but in this era of college base ball with the bats we’re using the ball’s just not going to carry out so we can’t hit the ball in the air. I know everybody would love to see gorilla ball and so would I.

ULL is physical as a team as you’ll see in college baseball. And (two) of their six hits we’re infield hits today.

It is what it is. It’s hard to have crushers in college baseball anymore. But Scivicque competed hard. Hit a flyball to fairly deep right field but turns into a routine out.

Conner Hale didn’t hit the ball hard, but got an infield hit. You just have to do the best you can and try to manufacture runs. This is the modern day of baseball. We’ve just got to adapt to it.

We have to get out of this mode of constantly hitting flyballs because nothing good… you can’ have any good luck happen if you just hit a lazy flyball. We’ve got to get better at that.