Jay Johnson announces starting pitcher for LSU baseball’s season opener

Thatcher Hurd put in his best outing of the year to give LSU a shot at hosting a super regional. PHOTO BY: LSU Athletics

LSU baseball coach Jay Johnson announced who will be starting at pitcher for the Tigers on opening weekend.

Thatcher Hurd will start Friday night against VMI and Luke Holman will start Saturday against Central Arkansas. Johnson said he and his staff will wait to see who starts the next two games as LSU navigates four games in four days to start the season.

Hurd got off to a slow start in 2023 giving up four runs in 2.0 innings pitched against Southern in his first start of the season. Hurd shook off his early season struggles and by the end of the year had solidified a spot as LSU’s third pitcher behind Paul Skenes and Ty Floyd.

Hurd pitched the final three innings of LSU’s dramatic 11-inning win over Wake Forest in relief of Skenes and started Game 3 of the College World Series finals against Florida. He went 2-1 at the College World Series with a 2.25 ERA and 13 strikeouts in 12.0 innings.

“If you look at the improvement at the end of last season, really whatever you want to call it, mid-May through the College World Series [Hurd] showed pitch ability,” Johnson said. “He showed ability to manage the game. If you’re going to pitch on any Friday, and it just happens to be this Friday, the expectations are giving your team a quality start and chance to win. And I think he has the ability and mental disposition to do that, and he proved that time and again at the end of last season.”

Overall, Hurd pitched 63.1 innings and posted a 5.68 ERA. He went 8-2 and recorded 84 strikeouts.

“[Hurd] will bring it Friday and we’ll kind of feed off that energy going into Saturday,” Holman said.

Holman, a transfer from Alabama, was not a weekend starter at the beginning of the 2023 season. His first start of the season came on a Tuesday night against Tennessee Tech. He gave up four runs in 4.0 innings pitched.

After several impressive performances, including a 12-strikeout game against Samford where he gave up no runs in 5.0 innings pitched, he earned his first weekend start of the season against Kentucky. He went 3.0 innings against the Wildcats and gave up three earned runs.

After continuing to impress, he became Alabama’s Friday night pitcher and started his first Friday game against Mississippi State. He gave up just one earned run in 5.2 innings pitched.

He finished the season with a 3.67 ERA and a 7-4 record in 15 starts. He pitched 81.0 innings and gave up 33 earned runs while recording 87 strikeouts.

“It’s good to know your mindset and I’m excited to pitch Saturday, but, of course, we got to win game one so kind of all of our focus is on Friday,” Holman said. “I’m just excited to get things going.”

While Johnson didn’t announce who would be LSU’s starting pitcher on Sunday, its likely to be between Gage Jump, Nate Ackenhausen and Griffin Herring.

Jump, who is expected to be one of the favorites to win the third starting pitcher job, is coming of a UCL injury that kept him out all last season and Johnson said he and his staff are going to ensure he is 100% as LSU prepares for the season.

“We get players ready for the season in different ways sometimes,” Johnson said. “Coming off the history, we’re always going to take care of the players. That’s what we’re doing right now.”

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Will Nickel

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