Will Gage Jump start against Wofford? A look at LSU’s lineup ahead of the Chapel Hill Regional

Gage Jump could be LSU's starter for game one of the Chapel Hill Regional. PHOTO BY: LSU Athletics

This Friday LSU baseball has a matchup with Wofford in the opening round of the Chapel Hill Regional.

Wofford sits at No. 46 in the RPI, but LSU can’t take the Terriers lightly. They have one of the most potent offenses in the country. They are second in runs scored per game (10.2) and third in batting average (.340). They have also won eight of their last 10 games including their last three games to win the Southern Conference Tournament.

Winning the first game is crucial to advancing to a super regional. Of the last 64 regional winners, only three have won a regional after losing their first game. Southern Miss was the only team to do it last season. LSU pulled it off in 2021 at the Eugene Regional and Virginia did it the same year at the Columbia Regional.

Jay Johnson seems to finally have his lineup set after tinkering with it throughout the season. Michael Braswell, Tommy White and Jared Jones led off every game of the SEC Tournament. After those three its Josh Pearson, Hayden Travinski, Steven Milam, Jake Brown, Mac Bingham, Ashton Larson and Alex Milazzo. That lineup helped the Tigers score 44 runs in five games.

“I think we have a clear identity now,” Johnson said. “I think roles are pretty established in terms of what we are going to do and how we are going to do it, and they are playing credibly hard. It’s a team that I’m proud of and really excited to attack the postseason.”

On the mound, Johnson won’t announce a starter for Friday until closer to the game, but he should have a full rotation of pitchers available outside of maybe Christian Little who left the SEC Tournament with a lat injury.

“I’m optimistic, whatever treatment we can get [Little], we’ll get him,” Johnson said “I will say that I’m optimistic about our staff. Obviously he’s a big piece but I feel like this week showed we have more guys that I’m comfortable going to.”

Johnson threw ace Paul Skenes for all nine innings of last year’s regional opener against Tulane. He also threw his ace in the opening game the year before when he pitched Ma’Khali Hilliard against Kennesaw State.

If he elects to go down a similar route, Gage Jump would be the starter. Jump has been playing his best baseball of the season down the stretch for LSU and pitched seven innings on four days rest in the opening round of the SEC Tournament.

In his last six starts, he’s allowed just nine runs. In his last two starts, he allowed just two runs and struck out 15 batters in 13 innings pitched. LSU has won five of his last six starts. He has a 3.42 ERA on the season.

Johnson could also elect to save Jump for a likely second round matchup with North Carolina. Luke Holman threw a six-inning no-hitter against Kentucky on Wednesday and has a team best 2.54 ERA this season.

Nate Ackenhausen could also be an option on Friday. He pitched just 2.2 innings on Sunday and struck out six batters before being pulled against Tennessee.

Ackenhausen has proven to be a capable starter for LSU this season outside of the SEC Tournament as well. He started against Missouri in a crucial game three for the Tigers and helped them claim their first SEC series of the season.

LSU has a 108-27 record all-time in regional play and will be looking to add another win when it faces off against Wofford on Friday at 11 a.m.

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Will Nickel

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