By JAMES MORAN
Tiger Rag Associate Editor
Paul Mainieri has officially made the switch.
Sophomore ace Alex Lange (2-0, 4.24) will get the start Friday night as LSU hosts Alabama to begin Southeastern Conference play. The All-American has started on Saturday’s through the pre-conference slate.
“I just feel he’s ready for this,” Mainieri said after Wednesday’s 9-4 win over UNO. “I think opening night in the SEC is going to be very electric, and I think he’s our top guy. He has the best chance to dominate a game, and I felt like he made a big step this last game.”
Junior Jared Poche’, who’d started every Friday night game thus far, will pitch Saturday with senior John Valek III to follow in his customary Sunday spot.
Mainieri said originally intended to make the switch last week, but held off after Lange struggled against Fordham. But after earning the win against a tough Ball State club, Mainieri now feels the timing is right to re-install Lange into the Friday night spot.
“He’s ready to make the transition and lead us on the weekend,” Mainieri said. “I think it’s the right thing to do. Jared is in familiar territory pitching on Saturday. He did that with Aaron Nola pitching on Friday nights.”
He added: “I think Alex is ready. I also think that coming back on a day’s rest earlier might actually help his command. Getting out there more frequently, and he’ll do the same next week against Texas A&M. His bullpen that he threw yesterday was the best bullpen that he’s had command-wise, so maybe there’s something to it.”