By LUKE JOHNSON
Tiger Rag Editor
Five games in five days turned out to not be much of a problem for the Tigers.
LSU ran roughshod through the competition this week, capping it off with a three-game sweep of visiting Purdue. Sunday’s win was LSU’s 14th in 16 games, and it dropped Purdue’s overall record to 1-10. It was a good week for LSU, but next weekend should prove to be a true litmus test for where this team is with a weekend trip to Vanderbilt lined up.
LSU coach Paul Mainieri said he’ll wait until Monday to make his Southeastern Conference weekend rotation public, but if he’s going by performance alone, it should be a pretty easy call.
Junior pitcher Cody Glenn was solid when he needed to be spectacular against Purdue Sunday. He went four innings with the only blemish coming on a two-run homer by first baseman Conner Hudnall in the second inning.
Reading between the lines, it was obvious Glenn wasn’t particularly happy with how the game went down afterward during his curt interview session.
Kyle Bouman, meanwhile, did exactly what he needed to do on Saturday to maintain his lead on Glenn. He fired 6.2 innings of two-run ball, did not issue a walk and let the defense do the work behind him. It’s not official, but it’d be a big surprise if Bouman was not starting a game in Nashville next weekend.
Jared Poché, who did not make an appearance this weekend, is also in the mix and figures to snag one of the spots.
Here are their season lines, side-by-side. Remember, of the three, Glenn’s had the toughest opponents, so don’t read too much into the big disparity (though the opponent batting average is a big concern).
Bouman: 3-0, 1.46 ERA, 24.2 IP, 13 K, 1 BB, .209 OPP B/AVG
Glenn: 1-1, 4.74 ERA, 19 IP, 10 K, 2 BB, .333 OPP B/AVG
Poché: 3-0, 1.00 ERA, 18 IP, 14 K, 2 BB, .200 OPP B/AVG
Mainieri said Sunday that he’s going to have a decision on his weekend rotation by Monday. My guess? It’ll be Nola on Friday, Bouman on Saturday and Poché on Sunday with Glenn available in relief.
In other competition notes, it looks like Mainieri will use a combination of Parker Bugg and Joe Broussard to close games down this season. Bugg earned an extended save on Sunday, working 1.2 scoreless innings, and Broussard earned his second career save Saturday. Don’t be surprised to see Broussard hold that role this weekend until Bugg gets some more experience against upper-echelon conference competition.
Next, let’s take a look at the weekend that was in LSU baseball.
ALEX BREGMAN, SOPHOMORE, SHORTSTOP
LSU’s sophomore shortstop went 7-for-12 this weekend (.583) with his first home run of the season, four RBI and two runs scored. He also played solid defense, making all 14 plays that came his way without making an error. His hot weekend at the plate raised his average 43 points to .429, and he extended his hitting streak to eight games. He also delivered the best quote of the weekend: "All of our hitters before the game packed our bags and we got on the train on the way to Rake City, ok? We unpacked when we got there, and I think we're going to stay for awhile. Ok?”
ANDREW STEVENSON, SOPHOMORE, CENTER FIELD
You want to talk about hitting streaks? After collecting a hit in all of LSU’s games this weekend, Stevenson has now hit safely in all 14 games he’s had an at bat in this season. The sophomore center fielder had three hits in seven weekend at bats, and also drove in four runs. He now has 19 hits this year, just four fewer than he had in all of 2013. Quite the offensive turnaround. But it was Stevenson’s glove that earns him a spot here. He made two full-extension diving plays in the gaps – one in right-center in Friday’s game, and one in left-center Saturday. He laid out for both while running full speed, which for Stevenson is pretty darn fast. Here’s what starter Kyle Bouman had to say about having a defender of Stevenson’s caliber out there after the game Saturday: "It’s amazing to have a guy like that. That ball was hit and I didn’t even think he’d get to it.”
KRAMER ROBERTSON, FRESHMAN, SECOND BASE
Robertson has been tremendous as a freshman, but Saturday’s game is one he’d like to forget. Given an opportunity to lead off for the first time in his career, Robertson earned himself the golden sombrero, striking out four times (three times looking). He carried his troubles with him to the field, where he booted a ball in the eighth inning when the Tigers had just a one-run lead. This will not be the norm with Robertson, who’s proven that he’s a dynamic ball player, but it’s a lesson learned. Said coach Paul Mainieri afterward: "He got humbled tonight, there’s no doubt about that.”
THE TOP OF PURDUE’S ORDER
Second baseman Cody Strong, catcher Sean McHugh and designated hitter Kyle Wood combined to go just 5-for-32 from the top three spots in the order this weekend, with six strikeouts. That’s a .147 batting average. Woof.
BY THE NUMBERS
18,000 – The combined actual attendance from the three-game series. You know how us sportswriters love round numbers. Saturday was the best draw, with 7,221 fans coming to watch LSU steal its first come-from-behind win of the season.
21-17 – LSU scored 21 runs this weekend, which was four better than the combined number of hits Purdue was able to rack up. That’s a pretty solid winning formula.
12 – Career-high total of strikeouts for Aaron Nola in his Friday start, a number he set in eight innings of work.
53 – Nola’s consecutive innings streak without allowing an earned run was pushed to 53. The last time he allowed an earned run was last season’s SEC tournament loss against Arkansas.
40-0 – The combined score of the four games Nola has pitched this season.
+19 – Nola has struck out 19 more batters this season (36) than he’s allowed to reach base by hit (11), walk (2) and hit by pitch (4) combined.