By JAMES MORAN | Tiger Rag Associate Editor
Mother Nature cares not for the pageantry of Opening Night.
LSU’s 2017 season opener against Air Force at Alex Box Stadium has been postponed due to heavy rainfall in the Baton Rouge area. Along with the postponement of Army-Tulane — the two Louisiana schools are “sharing” opponents, the logistics have caused a shuffling in the weekend schedule.
The Tigers will host Army for a separate admission double header Saturday as Tulane plays two against Air Force. LSU and Army will play two seven-inning games scheduled for 12 p.m. and 4 p.m. Tulane will also host a double header against Air Force on Saturday. LSU-Air Force and Tulane-Army will then play on Sunday as originally scheduled.
LSU coach Paul Mainieri explained the games will be seven innings each in order to ease the travel burden on Army. Mainieri confirmed Alex Lange, Friday’s scheduled starter, will pitch the early game. Jared Poche’ (Sat.) and Eric Walker (Sun.) will then make their starts as originally scheduled.
Rain started falling at the Box shortly before 5 p.m., and the tarp came out not too long after. First pitch was originally scheduled for 7. LSU also cancelled the Wings of Blue Parachute Jump, a part of “Military Appreciation” weekend, due to the weather. They are still scheduled to jump Saturday and Sunday, per LSU.
Mainieri explained that the decision to cancel was made around 6:30. The delay in announcing came from a number of logisticial problems that needed to be hammered out. For instance, Army was originally scheduled to have lunch with Gov. John Bel Edwards, a West Point grad, at the Governor’s Mansion on Saturday and has a commercial flight home booked for Sunday.
Edwards will still throw out the ceremonial first pitch before the second game Saturday, which Mainieri said will feature all of the pomp and circumstance originally scheduled for Opening Night. He added Brad Garafola Jr., the son of the slain East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s deputy, will now throw out the first pitch before the noon contest.
Friday marks the first LSU to be rained out since 2001. Coincidentally, the make-up game the following day marks the last time LSU lost a season opener. The Tigers also had their 2006 opener suspended in progress before completing the game the following day.