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Mainieri: It’s the perfect class

Coach Paul Mainieri has received assurances from 11 of his 12-member freshman signing class that they’ll play for LSU and not sign pro contracts.

Paul Mainieri calls LSU's signing class "perfect." (HILARY SCHEINUK | The Advocate)

Paul Mainieri calls LSU’s signing class “perfect.” (HILARY SCHEINUK | The Advocate)

That means the Tigers will reel in a group that Mainieri says might be the best he’s ever signed in eight years at LSU.

Mainieri sat down with The Advocate earlier this week to discuss the signing class, among other topics. You can read the full Q&A with the coach in The Advocate on Saturday (Part I) and Sunday (Part II).

For now, here’s a portion of Part II of the chat where Mainieri touches on this class of freshmen.

Q: How excited are you about this freshman class?

Mainieri: I haven’t been this excited about a class since, really, our first class that came in – the class with (Kevin) Gausman and (Ryan) Eades and (Jacoby) Jones and (Ty) Ross. That was a pretty great class, too. Probably felt the same way about that class. This class, I don’t know, it just strikes me as being the perfect class. I know that it’s hard to say that something’s perfect, but it just feels that way. We’ve got some really high end players that literally turned down $1 million. One turned down $1 million. One turned down very close to $1 million. The rest of them were going to be draft choices between the third and 12th round if they wanted to be. The reason they didn’t get picked there was because they had indicated to pro scout that they were going to go to LSU no matter what. They didn’t waste draft picks on them.

We had five draft picks that are coming to school, but trust me when I tell you that the rest of them that weren’t drafted easily would have been or could have been or should have been.

This is a talented group. We’ve got the pitchers that are going to replenish our staff, plus we’ll have three or four guys coming back from injury last year. I’m excited about that. I think our staff is going to be strong. We’re just going to have some youth. That’s not going to be an excuse. We’re going to have to get them ready quickly. We’ve got the right pitching coach to do that.

I’m also equally as excited about the position players. The two Jordan boys at Barbe (Beau and Bryce) are winners. If you looked up the word ‘winner’ in the dictionary, you’d see their pictures there. They’re good ballplayers.

I think (Greg) Deichmann and (Grayson) Byrd are going to be really

Javi Sanchez gets much of the credit for reeling in LSU's class, Mainieri said. (Patrick Dennis |The Advocate)

Javi Sanchez gets much of the credit for reeling in LSU’s class, Mainieri said. (Patrick Dennis |The Advocate)

great players here. And Mike Papierski reminds me an awful lot of Micah Gibbs. Maybe even better. He’s a switch hitting catcher that has the talent and the tools and is going to have a tremendous future here. I’m equally excited about those guys. If you asked me to draw up the perfect class, this would be it. I think (recruiting coordinator and hitting coach Javi) Sanchez did an amazing job putting it together.

Q: What do you tell an 18-year old who calls and tells you that he turned down $1 million to come play for you?

Mainieri: I tell them that they exhibited an unparalleled level of confidence in themselves of decisiveness and of valuing what the experience of LSU is going to be like. Personally, I think they all made good decisions. I mean that from the bottom of my heart.

I totally understand Bobby Bradley, why he decided to sign. I totally supported his decision to do that, and I wish him nothing but the best. The other kids who turned it down and decided to come to LSU, I’m going to wrap my arms around them, welcome them into the program and get to work.

I think they’re going to have a significant impact on the program. I don’t know if it’s going to be ranked the No. 1 class in the country. It should be. That’s the talent on the team. That’s the talent in the class. I don’t know how those people that rank them do that, but for me it’s the No. 1 class in the country. It might be the best class we ever had here.

Mainieri: ‘These last three days have been trying’

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Coach Paul Mainieri met with reporters Thursday for the first time since the Tigers bowed out of the NCAA postseason by losing back-to-back game to Houston in the NCAA Baton Rouge regional.

We supply a few newsy nuggets from our chat below. Check out the above video, too.

  • Of all of the decisions Mainieri made Sunday and Monday, he is second-guessing himself on one: starting the eighth inning Sunday night with Kurt McCune – as LSU nursed a 4-0 lead. “Maybe I should have gone with Joe Broussard,” Mainieri said. Mainieri’s decision to leave Broussard in the bullpen came from his fear that the closer’s velocity would have dropped after pitching the night before. That’s what happened in the series at Texas A&M. “I was a little concerned, after throwing 20 pitches, would he have the endurance, would he have the velocity for two full innings, ” Mainieri said. The coach somewhat regrets the decision after seeing Broussard pitch three innings later in that same game.
  • Among all of LSU’s healthy pitchers, Kyle Bouman will be the only one who will be shut down, Mainieri said, this summer. Jared Poche, meanwhile, will get four starts this summer for five innings each in the Cape Cod Leagie.
  • So what’s the 2015 LSU infield look like? It’s too early to tell, Mainieri said. Tyler Moore’s status (go pro or not) will help shake out things, Mainieri said. “That could affect what we do with Conner Hale,” Mainieri said. Hale was originally signed to be a third baseman. “We don’t know how Danny Zardon and Kramer Robertson played this summer,” the coach said. “We know what we have in Bregman.” Mainieri suggested that two signees – shortstops Greg Deichmann and Grayson Byrd – will give serious competition to all infielders – outside of Bregman.

LSU players/signees and the MLB draft

The athletic Jared Foster will likely sign a pro contract. (Patrick Dennis | The Advocate)

The athletic Jared Foster will likely sign a pro contract. (Patrick Dennis | The Advocate)

The MLB draft begins Thursday. Here’s our story on that.

On the blog, here is a nuts-and-bolts look at how the draft will affect the LSU baseball team – from current players to signees. We’ve compiled these two charts based on discussions with pro scouts, LSU coaches and Scout.com’s national baseball analyst, Kiley McDaniel:

Current players | Projection | Signability

RHP Aaron Nola 1st round Very high
RHP Joe Broussard 6th-10th Moderate to High
C Tyler Moore 6th-10th Moderate to High
OF Jared Foster 5th-15th High
OF Mark Laird 6th-10th Low to Moderate
2B Conner Hale 10th-15th Low
LHP Kyle Bouman Late Low

 

Signees | Projection | Signability

LHP Mac Marshall 2nd-4th round Moderate
RHP Jake Godfrey 3rd-5th Moderate
1B Bobby Bradley 3rd-5th Moderate
SS Greg Deichmann 4th-7th Low to Moderate
LHP Jake Latz 7th-15th Low
RHP Alex Lange 5th-7th Low
RHP Doug Norman 5th-7th Low
C Michael Papierski 5th-7th Low
SS Grayson Byrd 7th-15th Low
INF/RHP Austin Bain Late Low
1B/OF Beau Jordan Late Low
1B/OF Bryce Jordan Late Low

Postgame: Houston 12, LSU 2

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Postgame will be posted a few hours after each game during this baseball season. 

General Info

The Hits

  • Ashford Fulmer, UH CF: Fulmer went 3 for 3 and drove in two runs. He was one of three Cougars hitters to record at least two hits in the game.
  • Frankie Ratclif, UH SS: Ratcliff made the plays in the field when needed and had two RBIs at the plate. He went 2 for 3 at the dish in leading the Cougars to the regional title.
  • Nate Fury, LSU RHP: In relief, Fury tossed 4.1 innings of three-hit ball and struck out three. He had what was probably his best career appearance at LSU in his last. He’s a senior.

The Misses

Trouble starter early for LSU, when coach Paul Mainieri had to make a pitching chance with no outs in the first. (HILARY SCHEINUK | The Advocate)

Trouble starter early for LSU, when coach Paul Mainieri had to make a pitching chance with no outs in the first. (HILARY SCHEINUK | The Advocate)

  • Alden Cartwright, LSU RHP: The Baton Rouge native promised a win Sunday night. He didn’t record an out in a struggle of a start. He hit his first batter on a 1-2 pitch and walked the next two to load the bases.
  • Brady Domangue, LSU RHP: Domangue faced five batters and did not record an out. He allowed four hits, three runs and intentionally walked a batter.

The Turning Point

  • Houston scored a whopping seven runs in the third inning, the most in one frame against LSU this season. The Cougars took a 9-2 lead to the fourth.

The Quote

  • “It was as poorly a game as we pitched all year.” – LSU coach Paul Mainieri

Pregame: LSU vs. Houston (NCAA regional)

Pregame will be posted a few hours before each game this baseball season. About an hour before first pitch, lineups will be added to the bottom of this post. Return after the game for our Postgame blog with video.

General Info

What’s At Stake

  • It’s the old cliche: win or go home. The Tigers have been pushed to an elimination game at home in a regional for a 23rd time in program history. They’re 19-3 in the previous 22 home regional elimination games, and they’ve never lost a home regional after winning the first two games. It would be a record low, basically, if the Tigers can’t win this one.

What To Watch

Alden Cartwright made a promise on Sunday night. Can he and LSU back it up?(Patrick Dennis | The Advocate)

Alden Cartwright made a promise on Sunday night. Can he and LSU back it up?(Patrick Dennis | The Advocate)

  • The promise: Cartwright delivered what many consider bulletin board material (hey, another cliche) on Sunday night, promising that the Tigers would win Monday’s elimination game. Can he help deliver the promise? Cartwright is expected to get the nod on the mound.
  • Pen position: So who’s fresh for LSU in the bullpen after three games in three days? Everyone except closer Joe Broussard, likely. LSU hasn’t used five pitchers this weekend: Cartwright, Hunter Devall, Parker Bugg, Henri Faucheux and Brady Domangue. It has used the following pitchers (for X amount of pitches): Aaron Nola (104), Jared Poche (78), Kyle Bouman (64) Broussard (58), Nate Fury (33), Zac Person (28) and Kurt McCune (15). Expect a lot of Cartwright, Bugg and McCune on Monday in crunch time.

    Paul Mainieri and son Tommy watch pregame warmups Monday. (HILARY SCHEINUK | The Advocate)

    Paul Mainieri and son Tommy watch pregame warmups Monday. (HILARY SCHEINUK | The Advocate)

  • Bregman’s magic: The LSU shortstop is batting over .400 during the Tigers’ last 11 games. He went 4 for 5 on Sunday night, and that wasn’t the most impressive thing. He made a number of incredible defensive plays, owning his territory.

Know Your Opponent

  • Houston is starting freshman RHP Andrew Lantrip (6-0, 1.55). He has the fifth-most start on the Cougars team. Lantrip started Friday’s win over Bryant, hurling 41 pitches over two innings. He allowed five hits and one run. In all this weekend, Houston has used 10 pitchers. LSU has used seven.

Lineups

LSU

  • Mark Laird, RF
  • Alex Bregman, SS
  • Jake Fraley, LF
  • Sean McMullen, DH
  • Kade Scivicque, C
  • Tyler Moore, 1B
  • Conner Hale, 2B
  • Andrew Stevenson, CF
  • Christian Ibarra, 3B

Houston

  • Kyle Survance, RF
  • Michael Pyeatt, DH
  • Casey Grayson, 1B
  • Frankie Ratcliff, SS
  • Caleb Barker, C
  • Josh Vidales, 2B
  • Landon Appling, LF
  • Connor Hollis, 3B
  • Ashford Fulmer, CF

Postgame: Houston 5, LSU 4 (11 innings)

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Postgame will be posted a few hours after each game during this baseball season. 

General Info

The Hits

  • Kyle Survance, UH RF: Survance had three hits and drove in the eventual game-winning run with a line-drive single to shallow left field.  He had a single in the eighth, scoring the third run of Houston’s four-run inning.
  • Caleb Barker, UH C: Barker hit the two-run game-tying shot in that eighth inning. His smack off of Nate Fury was sent into short center, and tied it at 4.

    Alex Bregman went 4 for 5 Sunday. (Gerald Herbert | The Advocate)

    Alex Bregman went 4 for 5 Sunday. (Gerald Herbert | The Advocate)

  • Alex Bregman, LSU SS: Bregman went 4 for 5 with two RBIs. He had hits in his first four at-bats, including a pair of doubles (one a pop fly UH couldn’t catch).  He also made some spectacular plays in the field.
  • Kyle Bouman, LSU LHP: Bouman allowed two hits through the first six innings. He threw pitches over the plate, allowing his defense to make some incredible plays in the field. He retired 17 of 21 batters at one point.

The Misses

  • Kurt McCune, LSU RHP: McCune got rocked in the eighth inning. He allowed three singles, four runs and was called for obstructing a runner’s path down the first base line. He was credited for all four of Houston’s runs in its four-run rally in the eighth.

The Turning Point

  • Houston’s four-run eighth inning turned momentum. The Cougars won it in the 11th with three singles.

The Quote

  • “I’m getting the ball tomorrow night, and I can promise you we’re going to win that game.” – freshman RHP Alden Cartwright

Pregame: LSU vs. Houston (NCAA regional)

Pregame will be posted a few hours before each game this baseball season. About an hour before first pitch, lineups will be added to the bottom of this post. Return after the game for our Postgame blog with video.

General Info

What’s At Stake

  • Houston beat Southeastern Louisiana 9-5, eliminating the Lions. The Cougars and Tigers will have a rematch at 7:35 p.m. Sunday night in the regional final. The Tigers have a shot to win the regional and advance to a third straight NCAA super regional. All they need is a victory against a team that’ll be playing a fourth game in about 48 hours. An LSU loss will send the regional to an elimination game at 7 p.m. Monday.

What To Watch

Kyle Bouman will start Sunday night in the regional final. (Patrick Dennis | The Advocate)

Kyle Bouman will start Sunday night in the regional final. (Patrick Dennis | The Advocate)

  • Bouman’s big day: Just a year ago, Bouman was in junior college awaiting a scholarship off. Now he’s pitching in a regional final? “It’s awesome,” he said Saturday night. After an ankle sprain and some rough mid-season outings, Bouman has pitched splendid lately. He’s allowed just six hits and two earned runs in his last two starts, a combined 11 innings.
  • Power or D: Coach Paul Mainieri chose the latter in the game against Houston on Saturday night, starting web-gem crazed Kramer Robertson and sitting big bat Kade Scivicque. It paid off. Robertson made a host of defensive plays and drew a key walk, scoring a run.
  • Sitting around: LSU has the advantage of having not played a game earlier in the day – like Houston did. But the Tigers have been sitting around waiting for SELA/Houston to end. The game included a one-hour rain delay.

Know Your Opponent

  • Houston will be starting a second game in a matter of about five hours and a fourth in about 48 hours. The Cougars started ace Aaron Garza against Southeastern Louisiana on Sunday afternoon. He threw 78 pitches in six innings, allowing 10 hits and two runs. UH has used nine pitchers over the three games. Just three have thrown more than 40 pitches.

Lineups

LSU

  • Mark Laird, RF
  • Alex Bregman, SS
  • Jake Fraley, DH
  • Sean McMullen, LF
  • Kade Scivicque, C
  • Conner Hale, 2B
  • Tyler Moore, 1B
  • Christian Ibarra, 3B
  • Andrew Stevenson, CF

Houston

  • Kyle Survance, RF
  • Landon Appling, LF
  • Casey Grayson, 1B
  • Caleb Barker, C
  • Frankie Ratcliff, SS
  • Connor Hollis, 3B
  • Justin Montemayor, DH
  • Josh Vidales, 2B
  • Ashford Fulmer, CF

Postgame: LSU 5, Houston 1

Postgame will be posted a few hours after each game during this baseball season. 

General Info

  • Box: Click here
  • CoverageGame story
  • Twitter: @DellengerAdv
  • On deck: vs. Houston or Southeastern Louisiana, 7 p.m. Sunday

The Hits

  • Conner Hale, LSU 1B: Hale had RBI singles in his first two at-bats. He made up for a whiff on a hit-and-run by hitting a line drive single to drive in a run a few moments later.

    Conner Hale had two RBIs on Saturday. (HILARY SCHEINUK | The Advocate)

    Conner Hale had two RBIs on Saturday. (HILARY SCHEINUK | The Advocate)

  • Alex Bregman, LSU SS: Bregman had several great defensive plays, but the best came with the bases loaded and two outs. He dove for a ball in foul territory, catching it to end the inning. He went 1 for 3 at the plate, driving in a run in a two-run seventh.
  • Aaron Nola, LSU RHP: Nola struck out seven through 7.1 innings, retiring 17 of his final 18 batters in a masterful performance. He wiggled out of that bases-loaded jam in the second – with help from Bregman’s catch.  Nola allowed one hit outside of that second inning. He allowed three in that frame.

The Turning Point

  • LSU added two runs in the seventh inning for a four-run cushion. That’s a comfortable lead with Nola hurling. The Tigers had RBI singles from Mark Laird and Bregman in the frame. Christian Ibarra singled to lead off the inning, and Kramer Robertson walked.

The Quote

  • “Players know clearly once the NCAA tournament starts, you’re five wins away from Omaha. We’re basically counting them off now. That’s two down and three to go.” – LSU coach Paul Mainieri