By JAMES MORAN | Tiger Rag Associate Editor
LSU will have its full complement of first baseman available this weekend, but Paul Mainieri hasn’t decided who’ll start there as LSU opens up the Baton Rouge Super Regional against Mississippi State on Saturday night.
Nick Coomes is healed from the left thumb injury that kept him out of the final two games of the Baton Rouge Regional. However, due to a strong showing from freshman Jake Slaughter in his stead, the coach wasn’t ready to name a starter when he met with reporters Friday afternoon.
“Nick is fine. He’s ready to go,” Mainieri said. “But I’m not really sure who I’m going to play at first base right now. Whoever it is, it’ll be a decision that I make because both of them are healthy and ready to go.”
Coomes left the regional opener with a sprained thumb after his hand got caught under him while sliding into second base. Slaughter, who lost the job to Coomes in April, went 2-for-7, including a clutch two-out RBI single against Rice, the rest of the way.
The veteran Coomes took batting practice Wednesday and said he’s felt minimal discomfort while taking batting practice in the days since. Also dealing with a nagging hip injury, Mainieri said he returned to practice in full Thursday.
“I’ve been doing countless hours of rehab and whatnot on it,” Coomes said. “It feels almost back to 100 percent, so I’m good. That was the biggest thing; I couldn’t swing or grip the bat. That was what was holding me out this back weekend, but it’s back to normal.”
Only time will tell if he got healthy in time to avoid his season going the way of Wally Pipp.
LSU ANTICIPATING LESS WALK-A-DEICHMANN
Last time the Tigers and Bulldogs got together, three weekends ago in Starkville, Mississippi State coach Andy Cannizaro and his pitching staff walked All-American slugger Greg Deichmann 10 times in three games.
LSU isn’t anticipating nearly as many free passes for Deichmann this time around.
One reason why: regardless of who ends up playing first base, Mainieri announced that surging freshman Zach Watson is going to continue hitting behind Deichmann in the No. 5 spot in the order. The centerfielder is coming off a four home run showing in the regional.
“I told Greg that I think he needs to be ready to hit,” Mainieri said. “It didn’t work out that well for them last time. We won all three games … I think Zach is going to get their attention a little bit more, knowing what he can do if he gets a good pitch to hit.
“I think it’s going to be difficult for us to win this thing if Greg doesn’t have a good weekend. It’s time for him to show that he’s that guy.”
For Deichmann, the key is taking advantage when he gets that rare pitch to hit while staying patient if Cannizaro elects to have every pitcher besides lefty ace Konnor Pilkington pitch around him.
“I can’t control any of that,” Deichmann said. “I’m going up there locked in like they’re going to pitch to me in every at-bat.”
As the time-honored saying goes: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
LSU will stick with its normal three-man rotation for the Baton Rouge Super Regional, Mainieri announced. No surprises, even as some theorized that the coach may flip flop his second and this starters.
The probable starters are as follows.
Game One: RHP Alex Lange (9-5, 2.87 ERA) vs. LHP Konnor Pilkington (8-5, 3.26 ERA)
Game Two: LHP Jared Poche’ (10-3, 3.13 ERA) vs. TBA
Game Three (if necessary): RHP Eric Walker (8-1, 3.46 ERA) vs. TBA
It’ll certainly be Poche’s last start ever at Alex Box Stadium and will in all likelihood be Lange’s as well, considering he’s a projected first-round pick in the MLB Draft set to begin Monday.