LSU will hand the ball to its hottest pitcher to begin the Baton Rouge Regional.
Landon Marceaux will start against Stony Brook on Friday night, LSU coach Paul Mainieri announced on Thursday.
The logic and message behind the decision is clear: the Tigers aren’t taking this particular No. 4 seed lightly in their NCAA Tournament opener.
“Landon Marceaux has been pitching great baseball for us,” Mainieri said. “There are times as a host when you feel like you can pitch off your first game, but I don’t feel like we can do that with Stony Brook. I think they’re too talented a team.”
Marceaux has been LSU’s best starter down the stretch. He’s allowed just three earned runs over 18.2 innings (1.45 ERA) in his past three starts, all LSU wins.
Mainieri broke the news to Marceaux on day earlier that he’d be taking the mound in game one. Marceaux said he hadn’t given much thought to when he’d pitch before that point.
“Every game matters at this point,” Marceaux said. “So I wasn’t looking forward to any specific day to pitch. I was just going to be ready to go when my name is called. It’s Friday night now.”
The freshman won’t be pitching against the ghosts of the 2012 Super Regional, but the current iteration of Stony Brook is still a force to be reckoned with in Mainieri’s estimation.
“It’s a sign to our team, my team, that we’re not taking this team lightly at all,” Mainieri said. “We need to go at them with a guy that has been pitching really well for us and continues to pitch well for us.”
Mainieri declined to announce any pitching plans for the rest of the regional, but Cole Henry and Eric Walker will start LSU’s next two games in one order or another.
There is a plan in place, but Mainieri didn’t want any attention diverted away from Stony Brook. He was reluctant to talk about anything else.
“They might beat us,” Mainieri said, “but it is not going to be because we overlooked them.”