Now that the NCAA allows baseball teams to play fall scrimmages against other schools, Paul Mainieri announced Monday that LSU and UNO are finalizing details to play a home-and-home series this fall.
The in-state foes are set to play at Alex Box Stadium on Oct. 14 at 3 p.m. and again at Maestri Field in New Orleans on Oct. 27 at 1 p.m. The Privateers are coached by former LSU star Blake Dean.
NCAA rules previously permitted teams to play fall scrimmages, but mandated that those exhibitions would count against the 56 games a team is allowed to play. The NCAA announced the rules change in April to allow those scrimmages without counting them against the total.
Neither game conflicts with an LSU football game, which Mainieri made sure to note. LSU will also continue to hold its annual Purple and Gold World Series in the days leading up to the LSU-Alabama game on Nov. 3.
As for the scrimmages against UNO, Mainieri plans to use them as a crash course in Division I baseball for many of LSU’s freshmen pitchers and players by working in as many of the newcomers as possible.
“My guess is, as we look forward to that, we’re going to give the first taste of college baseball to all of our new guys,” Mainieri said.
The full 2019 schedule won’t be released until next month, but Mainieri dropped some newsy tidbits Monday at his annual summer press conference.
LSU will open the season on Feb. 15 by hosting UL-Monroe for the start of another Military Appreciation Weekend at the Box. Army and Air Force will play earlier in the day with LSU set to play Army in the early game Saturday and Air Force late on Sunday.
As previously reported, LSU will head to Texas for a three-game series during the third week of the regular season. It’ll be the back half of a home-and-home that started with Texas playing three games in Baton Rouge this past spring.
LSU will host California to close out the non-conference portion of the schedule. That’ll mean taking on the reigning Golden Spikes Award winner, Andrew Vaughn, who Mainieri coached this summer for Team USA.
Mainieri also revealed that LSU will begin Southeastern Conference Play by hosting Kentucky. A lot can change between now and then, but he hinted to expect a pitching matchup of Team USA teammates Zack Hess and Zack Thompson in the league opener.
WHY NO WAVE?
One team you won’t see on the schedule is Tulane. Mainieri confirmed that he’s decided to end the annual home-and-home series against the Green Wave.
Asked why the schools won’t meet in baseball for the first time since 1936, Mainieri said it was time to start treating Tulane like every other in-state school that wants LSU to come to town and fill their ballpark.
“I kept hearing from other (in-state) schools, ‘How come you treat Tulane differently than us?’,” Mainieri said. “Increasingly, I found it more difficult to answer the question rationally.”
Perhaps the final straw was Tulane putting last season’s LSU game on a pay-per-view stream despite Cox offering to air the game. LSU administrators were privately steamed by what can reasonably be viewed as a cash grab.
Mainieri said he offered Tulane the chance to play at Alex Box Stadium and join the rotation of state schools like UNO and McNeese State and wait for a return trip. Tulane declined, and thus the rivals won’t play this season unless they’re paired up in an NCAA Regional.
However, the plan is for LSU and Tulane to resume the rivalry in 2020 as an annual matchup at the Wally Pontiff Jr. Classic in Metairie. Tulane will be replacing UL-Lafayette as LSU’s annual foe in the marquee event.
– Right-hander Eric Walker remains on track in his recovery from Tommy John Surgery last summer and recently threw in front of both pitching coach Alan Dunn and trainer Cory Couture. He’s expected to be full go for fall practices, Mainieri said.
– Right-hander Nick Storz has been “feeling great” after undergoing a non-evasive PRP (platelet rich plasma) procedure to treat a torn lat below his right shoulder. Storz hasn’t begun throwing yet, Mainieri added. The coach speculated that the swings the hulking hurler took the summer prior to enrolling may have contributed to the injury, so LSU has decided he’ll focus exclusively on pitching this season and not hit.
– Freshman catcher CJ Willis won’t participate in fall practices due to a shoulder injury suffered during his senior year of high school. Willis will compete with Saul Garza and Brock Mathis for the starting catcher job once healthy. Willis also said he’s played first base and third base during his prep career.
– Outfielder Antoine Duplantis is expected to be completely healthy within the next week or two, Mainieri said. Duplantis suffered a shoulder injury when he crashed into a wall playing in an exhibition game for Team USA.