Notebook | Todd Peterson tapped to start LSU’s SEC Tournament opener

By JAMES MORAN | Tiger Rag Associate Editor

If LSU is going to win the Southeastern Conference Tournament this weekend in Hoover, at some point it’s going to need to win a game not pitched by one of its three weekend starters.

With that in mind, LSU coach Paul Mainieri has decided it might as well be the first one.

Freshman Todd Peterson will start LSU’s SEC Tournament opener Wednesday afternoon, Mainieri announced Monday shortly before the team departed for Hoover. He’ll take on the winner of Tuesday’s single-elimination game between Texas A&M and Missouri.

Ace Alex Lange will then pitch the proverbial ‘marbles’ game Thursday, with either a bye or elimination on the line, depending on Wednesday’s result. Jared Poche’ and Eric Walker will slot in after that depending on how things break.

“This decision is not so tough,” Mainieri said. “If we want to win the tournament, which we’re going to strive to do, at some point somebody not named Lange, Poche’ or Walker is going to have to have to win a game for us. So let’s see if we can do it in the beginning.”

The bigger picture, the coach said, is keeping Lange on a six-day’s rest. LSU has ridden its ace awfully hard of late, and Mainieri didn’t want to bring him back too soon after throwing 125 pitches in Starkville last Thursday night.

The coach ceded that he would’ve faced a much tougher decision had LSU would up in a single-elimination game.

Instead he’ll risk Poche’ and Walker not pitching in the event LSU goes two-and-out, an event that would imperil the national seed LSU has positioned itself to earn after claiming a share of the regular-season SEC Championship.

“I’m going to prepare like I’m pitching Friday,” Poche’ said. “But hopefully I’ll pitch Saturday. That’ll mean we won the first two games, and that’s two more wins for our résumé.”

The chance to start LSU’s postseason opener represents a major opportunity for Peterson. He impressed in his de facto audition to be groomed as LSU’s fourth starter last Tuesday, working five innings of one-run ball to pick up a victory against Northwestern State.

Peterson emerged early this season as a potential late-inning reliever for the Tigers but fell out of form for much of SEC play. His success last Tuesday was the result of two factors, he said: better fastball command and a put-away curveball that produced most of his six strikeouts.

“He came out and threw really well,” catcher Mike Papierski said. “He came out and showed Coach that he has potential on the mound. Obviously we know that because early in the season he threw well. Then he went down a little bit but he’s going to go out there and compete his butt off.”

Mainieri didn’t tip his hand much as to what kind of a pitch count Peterson will be on. He was pulled after 59 pitches in his last start and wouldn’t have been permitted to go beyond 60.

As for the other three starters, Mainieri will be care of not overtaxing them before the NCAA Tournament starts next weekend. Aside from that, he said, LSU’s “total focus” is on winning another championship this weekend.

“I’m going to watch the pitch counts pretty carefully and make sure we don’t stress our pitchers too much,” he said. “But outside of that, we’re going to do whatever it takes to try to win out there in Hoover.”

ALL-SEC TEAMS ANNOUNCED

A handful of Tigers were named to the various All-SEC teams, the league office announced Monday.

Lange and right fielder Greg Deichmann were named First Team All-SEC by the league coaches. Shortstop Kramer Robertson was named to the second team.

Papierski and third baseman Josh Smith were named to the SEC All-Defense Team while Smith, Walker and center fielder Zach Watson were named to the All-Freshman squad.

The complete 2017 SEC Baseball Awards are as follows:

First-Team All-SEC

C: Grant Koch, Arkansas

1B: Brent Rooker, Mississippi State

2B: Braden Shewmake, Texas A&M

3B: Jordan Rodgers, Tennessee

SS: Ryan Gridley, Mississippi State

OF: Greg Deichmann, LSU

OF: Tristan Pompey, Kentucky

OF: Jeren Kendall, Vanderbilt

DH/UT: Michael Curry, Georgia

SP: Kyle Wright, Vanderbilt

*SP: Sean Hjelle, Kentucky

*SP: Alex Lange, LSU

RP: Logan Salow, Kentucky

Second-Team All-SEC Team

C: Troy Squires, Kentucky

1B: Evan White, Kentucky

2B: Riley Mahan, Kentucky

3B: Colby Bortles, Ole Miss

*SS: Kramer Robertson, LSU

*SS: Jax Biggers, Arkansas

OF: Jonah Todd, Auburn

OF: Jake Mangum, Mississippi State

OF: Chandler Taylor, Alabama

DH/UT: JJ Schwarz, Florida

SP: Alex Faedo, Florida

SP: Brady Singer, Florida

RP: Michael Byrne, Florida

Freshman All-SEC Team

C: Hunter Coleman, Texas A&M

1B: Andre Lipcius, Tennessee

2B: Braden Shewmake, Texas A&M

3B: Josh Smith, LSU

SS: Cam Shepherd, Georgia

OF: Carlos Cortes, South Carolina

OF: Zach Watson, LSU

OF: Dominic Fletcher, Arkansas

DH/UT: Logan Foster, Texas A&M

SP: Ryan Rolison, Ole Miss

SP: Eric Walker, LSU

RP: T.J. Sikkema, Missouri

SEC All-Defensive Team

C: Michael Papierski, LSU

1B: Evan White, Kentucky

2B: Deacon Liput, Florida

3B: Josh Smith, LSU

SS: Dalton Guthrie, Florida

OF: Jeren Kendall, Vanderbilt

OF: Jonah Todd, Auburn

OF: Jake Mangum, Mississippi State

P: Brigham Hill, Texas A&M

Player of the Year: Brent Rooker, Mississippi State

Pitcher of the Year: Sean Hjelle, Kentucky

Freshman of the Year: Braden Shewmake, Texas A&M

Coach of the Year: Nick Mingione, Kentucky

Scholar-Athlete of the Year: Zach Logue, Kentucky

TWO TAKE HOME WEEKLY HONORS

A pair of Tigers took home weekly league honors after LSU finished off the regular season with a perfect 4-0 week.

Robertson was named the SEC Player of the Week after the senior hit 526 (10-for-19) two doubles, one triple, one homer, three RBI, eight runs and a .591 on- base percentage.

Freshman reliever Zack Hess was voted SEC Co-Freshmen of the Week, sharing the honor with T.J. Sikkema of Missouri. He made two appearances in LSU’s three-game sweep, working a combined 4.2 shutout innings with two hits, one walk and eight strikeouts. He also picked up his first career save.

LSU IN THE POLLS

The Tigers moved up in all four major polls to finish the regular season within the top eight in every poll, an indication of the position to club has put itself in to earn a sixth consecutive national seed. Here’s where LSU stands: (Previous week’s ranking)

D1 Baseball 7 (10)

Baseball America 8 (10)

Perfect Game 7 (8)

College Baseball Newspaper 3 (5)

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.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*


sixteen − = six