“Does it get any better than that?” | Poche’ comes up clutch again when LSU needs him

Lefty twirls six innings of one-hit relief as LSU advances past Rice 

Tiger Rag Associate Editor

Jared Poche’ has started and won too many big games to count during his three prolific seasons in an LSU uniform.

But faced with the prospect of that career meeting an untimely end, he authored quite possible his most brilliant outing to date.

Only this one came in relief.

Paul Mainieri called on the seasoned southpaw in the third inning of Tuesday’s Regional Championship to keep the deficit at 2-0 against a Rice team that exploded for 25 runs in two games the day prior.

He’d worked six strong innings in LSU’s regional opener three days prior, and Mainieri wasn’t sure what he had left in the tank.

“I didn’t think Jared was going to give us more than three innings, quite frankly,” Mainieri said. “I didn’t know how good his stuff would be.”

By the time he went back to the bullpen, after Poche’ had twirled six pristine innings of one-hit ball, the Tigers led 5-2 and were just three outs away from finishing off the Owls and moving on to host Costal Carolina in a super regional beginning Saturday night at Alex Box. He needed just 69 pitches (50 strikes) to do it while striking out six and not issuing a walk.

“The game turned around — not immediately — when Jared Poche’ came into the game,” Mainieri said. “He’s pitched a lot of great games for us, but I don’t know if he’s ever thrown a more important one or a better one.”

The Bulldog from Lutcher has been a stabilizing force in the LSU rotation since he arrived on campus three years ago. Always steady and a gusty competitor, but rarely dominant nor spectacular.

He was both on Tuesday afternoon.

Poche’ retired the first 16 men he faced, at times almost effortlessly breezing through a lineup that had lit up LSU pitching the night before and scored in each of the game’s first two innings.

He didn’t allow a baserunner into a one-out single in the eighth. By that time Greg Deichmann’s mammoth two-run blast had but the Tigers ahead and Mike Papierski (solo home run) and Kramer Robertson (RBI double) had provided insurance.

“Greg’s MVP of the Regional, and well deserving,” Robertson began, “but we don’t win the regional today without Jared Poche’, and I don’t think Jared wanted this to be his last game at Alex Box and he [itched like it. There’s not enough superlatives to describe what he did today.”

Perhaps it was Alan Dunn who best summed up his left-hander’s exploits. The excitable pitching coach’s hands were moving even faster than his lips in the afterglow of Poche’s masterpiece.

“He gave up one hit, right? And it was in the eighth inning,” Dunn began. “Does it get any better than that? What else can you do? When you’re talking about being a ‘Dude’ and that it factor, that’s it. That’s what it is.”

Many wanted Poche’ to get the start Tuesday with so much hanging in the balance. And after the first two innings, there was an eerie feeling of déjà vu creeping to of the 2014 regional championship game.

The one Mainieri didn’t bring Poche’ back on short rest for against Houston and saw his team’s season end, to some degree because of it.

“It was a win or go home game, but I just wanted to go out there and just leave it all on the field,” Poche’ said. “I gave it everything I had. I knew those guys, I knew the hitters would click eventually.”

The 10,000 or so packed into the Box may have rioted if Mainieri had pulled Poche’ earlier, but he’d made up his mind that Hunter Newman would come on to pitch the ninth.

“How you doin?” Mainieri asked as the lefty returned to the dugout.

Poche’: “You want the truth?”

Mainieri: “Yea”

Poche’: “I’m done.”

All in a day’s work for LSU’s grizzled, gutsy co-ace after the biggest, most-clutch outing of his career.

Until the next one, that is. And looking ahead to the Baton Rouge Super Regional, that next one could come with a return trip to Omaha hanging in the balance.

About James Moran 1377 Articles
James Moran was Editor of Tiger Rag from August 2018 to October 2019. He previously served as the associate editor since 2014. He is a graduate of the LSU Manship School of Journalism.

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