Game to resume at 11 a.m. Saturday; Game Two still set for Friday at 6 p.m.
By JAMES MORAN
Tiger Rag Associate Editor
Taking the mound in brand-new white cleats, Alex Lange looked as sharp in as curveball broke through three shutout innings against No. 1 Florida.
Unfortunately for LSU that’s when the storm hit, and Lange’s whiteout turned to a washout with the quickness of a lightning strike — pardon the pun.
The approaching thunderstorm halted play at 7:23 p.m. with one out recorded in the bottom half of the third inning in a scoreless game and it never resumed.
“It was a really tough break for us honestly,” LSU coach Paul Mainieri said. “Alex Lange was throwing the ball as well as he has all year, if not better. He was so in a groove. His command was outstanding. They hit a couple balls hard off him because they’re a good team, but boy, he was pitching great. Such a shame.”
Shifting the focus to when this game will be resumed — Antoine Duplantis will still be batting in a full count with a man in scoring position — here’s where things get a bit complicated.
Heavy rain remains in the forecast for Friday afternoon, both coaching staffs and the SEC agreed to instead scheduled the completion of Game One for 11 a.m. Saturday, with the series finale, which by rule becomes a seven-inning game, still scheduled to begin at 3:30 p.m.
Mainieri attributed the early start time to an SEC rule that mandates the game will be played with a drop-dead time set for 2:30 p.m., an hour before the series finale, which is to be televised. In the event the game doesn’t finish by then, it’ll be halted again and resumed after completion of the seven-inning game.
“We’re playing it a little cautions,” said Mainieri, who acknowledged having to restart the game a third time “wouldn’t be any fun.”
Game Two remains set for 6 p.m. Friday night. Mainieri announced that Jared Poche’ will now move up a day and start on Friday night. Riley Smith, originally scheduled to pitch Friday, will “start” either the resumed game Saturday morning or the series final, Mainieri said, depending on what happens Friday. No one was sure what will happen if Friday’s game can’t be completed as scheduled.
“I sound like a broken record when I say you just can’t do anything about it,” Mainieri said. “You’ve got to roll with it.”
As for Lange, who threw 39 pitches, Mainieri said there was an “outside, outside, outside chance” he could return to pitch Saturday, though he’d only do so in the unlikely event LSU has a chance to win the SEC Championship.
For now, Mainieri is planning on pitching Lange in LSU’s SEC Tournament opener on Tuesday, and he said the point of moving Poche’ up to Friday is the lefty is better able to start Wednesday in Hoover on short rest than Smith, who has battled shoulder trouble this season.
Mainieri explained his logic regarding Lange: “How much that game means, based upon what’s happening around the league and everything else in the first two days, and how we do tomorrow night and the pickup game, I think all that stuff might dictate it. Like if we’re playing for the SEC championship, we might just say ‘ok, let’s go for it. But if there’s something less than that, I’d have hesitations to bring him back anyway. He wants to do it.”
If LSU should secure a top-four seed in Hoover, meaning they’d receive a bye, he’d simply slide Lange and Poche’ back to Wednesday and Thursday.
“This is the first time in my coaching career I’ve had to deal with this,” Mainieri said of having to leave a game ‘hanging’ while they play another one. “I always wish I never had to deal with this, and all the sudden I do. It’s bizarre. It’s weird.”
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