Notebook | Drew Bianco gets Opening Night nod at first base

LSU has found a winner in the four-horse derby to start at first base — well, for one night at least.

Freshman Drew Bianco will get the start at first base on Opening Night against UL-Monroe and bat seventh, LSU coach Paul Mainieri announced Thursday.

Mainieri later clarified that fellow freshman Cade Beloso would likely start at first base on Saturday against Army. LSU will play it by ear from there, but it’s clear that those two have separated themselves from the pack.

“The two of them have edged in front of CJ (Willis) and Gavin (Dugas),” Mainieri said. “It’s not anything negative about them, but I don’t want to rotate four players at one position. I want to see if Drew or Cade will take the bull by the horns from this point forward.”

The coach favors Bianco over Beloso on Opening Night because of his maturity. He’s spent his whole life in the dugout cheering on his father, Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco.

Still, Drew knows it’ll be a little bit different now that he’s the one putting on the uniform.

“It’s a lot different when you’re playing versus a fan in the stands,” Bianco said. “This is something me and my brothers have always dreamed about. Growing up in college baseball, your dream is to play in the SEC somewhere. I’m real excited for it. Definitely day dreaming a bit in class.”

SECOND AND RISING

Perhaps the biggest surprise of Mainieri’s announced lineup for the opener was that second baseman Brandt Broussard has risen up to the No. 2 hole.

LSU envisioned Broussard as a bottom-of-the-order type hitter when it began practice last month. The senior has done nothing but hit ever since and he’s risen up the lineup as a result.

“He’s had a tremendous spring,” Mainieri said. “I think he was our leading hitter in all the intra-squad scrimmages. His bunting skills have improved and he’s probably our best base stealer.”

LSU believes Broussard can get back to being the offensive player he was before breaking him thumb in the middle of last season.

Broussard was hitting a team-leading .363 before getting hit by a pitch at Vanderbilt. He finished the season as a .260 hitter in 52 games.

“I feel healthy again,” Broussard said. “I feel like the bat speed is finally back. I feel as good now as I ever felt in my life. I never felt like I got back into it last season. I never felt quite right.”

FULL LINEUP

  1. Josh Smith (SS)
  2. Brandt Broussard (2B)
  3. Antoine Duplantis (RF)
  4. Daniel Cabrera (LF)
  5. Zach Watson (CF)
  6. Saul Garza (DH)
  7. Drew Bianco (1B)
  8. Brock Mathis (C)
  9. Hal Hughes (3B)

About James Moran 1334 Articles
James Moran was named Editor of Tiger Rag in August 2018. He previously served as the associate editor since 2014. He covers LSU football and baseball and is a graduate of the LSU Manship School of Journalism.

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