Fresh off a sweep of the opening weekend, No. 5 LSU will hit the road Wednesday for a rare midweek contest away from home.
The Tigers will venture to Hammond to face Southeastern Louisiana (2-1) at 6 p.m. This will mark LSU’s first visit to the Lions’ Alumni Field since 2009, a game the Tigers won 16-5.
LSU coach Paul Mainieri expects a hostile environment, which should provide his team with a true early season road test.
“The last time we went there, the place was packed during batting practice,” Mainieri said. “It was pretty intense. We had a good night that night, and hopefully we can do that again this year.”
LSU carries a 34-game midweek winning streak into the contest, with 31 consecutive victories against in-state opponents.
Senior right-handed pitcher Sean Kennel will get the start for SLU. He had a 6-3 record in 2013 with a 3.49 record and 36 strikeouts compared to 13 walks.
GLENN READY FOR HIS FIRST START
Junior lefty Cody Glenn will take the mound for LSU in his first start of the 2014 season. Glenn pitched an inning of relief on Sunday, retiring all three batters he faced.
Glenn still finds himself in a competition for a spot in the weekend rotation with Kyle Bouman and Jared Poche, who each earned victories in their LSU debuts. This midweek start will provide Glenn an opportunity to show he’s still one of the team’s better arms.
“He was throwing pretty hard the other day,” Mainieri said. “He was pretty amped up. He normally doesn’t throw that hard, so I just hope that he doesn’t overthrow and the fastball straightens out. He’s much more effective when his pitches have some sink to it.”
Mainieri opted to give Glenn the start Wednesday because he wants someone with experience pitching on the road. Glenn’s first LSU start of 2013 came on the road against Louisiana-Lafayette, and he finished the season in the weekend rotation with several road wins in conference play.
Glenn said he’s still the same pitcher he was a year ago, one that relies heavily on his two-seam fastball and sinker. He’s added a curveball to his repertoire, and he’s confident he’ll be able to match the standard set by this past weekend’s starters.
“I’m excited for it and I can’t wait for it to happen,” Glenn said. “I want to knock out these first two midweek games with two W’s, then hop back in the weekend rotation.”
Glenn will get one more midweek start next week against ULL, then Mainieri hopes to make a final decision on who his weekend starters will be.
SHAKEUP IN THE MIDDLE OF THE LINEUP
Mainieri’s looking for a new cleanup man after Jared Foster struggled at the plate in the first three games.
Given a chance after shining in preseason practices, Foster went just 1-for-13 this past weekend. He also failed to come through in the clutch, going just 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position.
“I was a little amped up,” Foster said. “I tried to do too much out there, tried to make too many big plays at the plate. I just need to settle down. I got all that out of the way, so now it’s time to play and get it done.”
Mainieri isn't giving up on Foster yet
Foster will stay in the starting lineup moving forward, but Mainieri did say he’ll move him down in the batting order. Mainieri isn’t ready to give up on Foster just yet, and he’s optimistic the junior outfielder will start to replicate his form from the fall and preseason.
“When I made the decision to give him a shot, I meant that I’ll give him a shot,” Mainieri said. “Not a three-game shot. I’m going to give him a good chance where he doesn’t feel he has to look over his shoulder…I still believe the kid has a chance to be a difference maker, but he’s going to have to hit better than he did this weekend.”
Mainieri mentioned Tyler Moore, Chris Chinea and Conner Hale as options to replace Foster in the four-hole. Hale may come as a surprise after he opened the year hitting ninth, but the JUCO transfer went 4-for-8 in his two starts this past weekend, and Mainieri said he could help LSU’s struggling run production.
“Tomorrow I’m going to hit him up in the middle of the order,” Mainieri said. “We’re going to give him a shot, see if he can drive in some runs in some key situations.”
---Mainieri said it’s still a three-man race at catcher. Chinea, Moore and Kade Scivicque all had successful starts behind the plate this past weekend, and Mainieri said he liked what he saw from them offensively as well.
Chinea will get the start at catcher Wednesday with Moore manning first base.
“You can see now why it’s neck-and-neck with all three of them,” Mainieri said. “They all do a nice solid job back there. None of them possess the throwing arm that Ty Ross had, but they all give you a solid performance.”
---Sophomore pitcher Hunter Newman will undergo a MRI this week to determine if there’s any structural damage in his arm. Newman was a contender for a spot in the weekend rotation but had to be shut down shortly before the season started. Mainieri said there’s no timetable for his return, and they’ll know more after the MRI.
---Freshman 2B Kramer Robertson’s enjoying a bit of celebrity after his outstanding debut Sunday. His sliding catch in foul territory (which you can see in Sunday’s game recap) made Sportscenter’s Top 10 plays, and Robertson said his phone’s been blowing up since.
“The support from Tiger fans and everybody was really awesome,” Robertson said.
He said he’s gained more than 600 followers on Twitter and had about 100 text messages waiting for him after Sunday’s game. Even Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III sent him some praise through social media.
Robertson’s mother is Kim Mulkey, women’s basketball coach at Baylor, where Griffin spent his college days.
Stick around at Tiger Sports Digest and talk all the latest in LSU sports and recruiting on our free board or over on our premium access board.