LSU hoping for a boost from Cam Sanders in debut against UNO

Momentum in baseball is only as good as the next day’s starting pitcher. So all Cam Sanders needs to do in his LSU debut is reverse an avalanche of negative progress after an ugly opening weekend series loss and the loss of shortstop Josh Smith for at least a month due to a back injury.

Oh yeah, and he’s got to do it against a good-hitting lineup that attacks these in-state midweek games against the flagship program like they’re the College World Series. Also he’s just getting over a sickness that plagued him all weekend.

“Boy, I think it’s a pretty important start for poor Cam in his first career start for LSU,” LSU coach Paul Mainieri said. “It’d be nice for Cam to go out there and give us a nice quality start. He’s capable, very capable.”

The right-handed JUCO transfer will take the ball for LSU (1-2) against UNO (2-2) at Alex Box Stadium on Wednesday night with first pitch set for 6:30, weather permitting. Blake Dean’s Privateers come to Baton Rouge with confidence after a rare home-and-home sweep of the Tigers last season.

Sanders now bears the burden of picking up the slack after an abysmal opening series for the LSU starting rotation. Neither Caleb Gilbert, Zack Hess nor Todd Peterson lasted five innings and the trio allowed 16 earned runs and issued 10 walks in 10.2 combined innings.

Do their struggles open the door for Sanders to pitch his way into a weekend spot if he harnesses his electric stuff by filling up the strike zone more consistently than his fellow starters? Mainieri isn’t there yet, but another weekend like the Notre Dame series could change that.

“There’s not going to be any major shakeups there with the weekend,” Mainieri said. “Now, if you ask me hypothetically, what if they don’t pitch well? It’s going to be a constant evaluation. I think everybody knows I’m not afraid to make changes and tinker with things.”

Sanders, for his part, wanted no part of discussing this start as an opportunity to pitch for someone else’s job. It’s just the debut the Thibodaux native has waited to make his entire left.

“I feel like I’m more than ready,” Sanders said. “I’ve been waiting for this for a long time since I got on campus. I can’t wait for it to start. I’m ready.”

Sanders said his arm is stretched out enough to give LSU six innings or roughly 75 pitches at this point in the spring.

At this point, the Tigers would probably sign for a starter actually getting their full day’s work in without ineffectiveness forcing Mainieri to come out of the dugout with an early hook.

PITCHING MATCHUP

LSU – Jr. RHP Cam Sanders (making NCAA Division I debut)

UNO – Jr. RHP Zach Thompson (making NCAA Division I debut)

DATE/TIME

Wednesday, February 21 – 6:30 p.m. CT

STADIUM

Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field in Baton Rouge, La. (10,326)

RANKINGS

LSU – No. 15 by Collegiate Baseball; No. 22 by Baseball America

UNO – unranked

RADIO

LSU Sports Radio Network affiliates – Baton Rouge affiliate is WDGL 98.1 FM

Live audio and live stats at www.LSUsports.net 

ONLINE

SEC Network+ – the game may be viewed at WatchESPN.com and the Watch ESPN app

SERIES RECORD

LSU leads the all-time series with New Orleans, 59-36, though the Privateers won both matchups last season, 11-8 in New Orleans and 7-4 (15 innings) in Baton Rouge. LSU had won eight straight games over UNO prior to last season. LSU coach Paul Mainieri played for two seasons at UNO under former Privateers coach Ron Maestri in 1978 and ’79. Third-year UNO coach Blake Dean played at LSU under Mainieri from 2007-10 as an outfielder/first baseman, earning 2008 first-team all-America honors and helping lead the Tigers to the 2009 College World Series title.

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James Moran
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.
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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