Thatcher Hurd back in the starting lineup for LSU’s SEC Tournament matchup with South Carolina

LSU baseball will start right hander Thatcher Hurd against South Carolina today. PHOTO BY: LSU Athletics

Jay Johnson has reportedly decided to do something he hasn’t done in nearly two months against South Carolina today: start Thatcher Hurd.

Hurd was meant to be the team’s ace coming into the season after some solid postseason play during LSU’s championship run. He pitched in five postseason games for the Tigers last season, including throwing six innings against Florida in game three of the College World Series.

But he hasn’t lived up to those expectations at all this season. He started LSU’s season opener against VMI and went just 2.2 innings and allowed five hits and four runs. By the time SEC play rolled around, he had fallen from being the Friday night starter to being the game three starter.

After just two SEC series, he was dropped from the starting rotation all together. Now, he’ll be starting his first game since April 16 against UNO and his first game against an SEC opponent since March 24 against Florida.

He comes into the game against the Gamecocks with a 6.49 ERA in just 34.2 innings pitched. He did show that he might be regaining some form against Ole Miss when he made his longest appearance since he started against UNO. He went 1.2 innings out of the bullpen and allowed just one hit and no runs while recording his first SEC strikeouts since he pitched 0.1 innings against Arkansas.

Hurd started his postseason run last season at the SEC Tournament in a game against South Carolina as well. That start was also his first SEC start in over a month. He went 5.1 innings and allowed four hits and three runs in a 10-3 win for LSU.

The SEC Tournament appearance last season helped him build momentum ahead of his 12-strikeout game against Oregon State in the Baton Rouge Regional.

He’ll be facing a South Carolina team that is tenth in the SEC in batting average (.274) and sixth in homers (90). Cole Messina leads the team in batting average with a .329 and RBI with 61. He’s also second on the team in home runs with 19. Ethan Petry leads the team in homers with 21 and has a .303 batting average with 52 RBI.

The Gamecocks will be starting right hander Tyler Pitzer on the mound. Pitzer is a freshman with a 4-1 record this season and a 4.66 ERA in 38.2 innings pitched. His last start came in a midweek game against Winthrop when he went two innings and allowed one hit and one run. He threw three innings out of the bullpen against Tennessee on May 16 and allowed three hits and three runs.

South Carolina (35-12, 13-17 SEC) beat Alabama 10-5 in the opening round of the tournament and came up with a 6-5 win over Arkansas yesterday to make it into the winner’s bracket. The winner of today’s game will go on to play at noon in a single elimination game for a spot in the championship. The loser will play an elimination game tomorrow at 3 p.m. against Kentucky.

First pitch for today’s game is set for 4:30 p.m.

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Will Nickel

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