LSU players preach short term memory heading into SEC series at Missouri
In baseball a short memory is a good memory and after another midweek loss, this time at the hands of cross town Southern, LSU is on the road for a three game series against Missouri.
On the pitching front, the Tigers will stick to the script, starting ace Zack Hess on Friday, freshman phenom Cole Henry Saturday and sophomore Eric Walker on Sunday. The staff as a whole has made great strides the last few weeks, particularly from its bullpen including Devin Fontenot, Trent Vietmeier and Ma’Khail Hilliard.
Friday’s game will start at 6:30 p.m. on SECN+ with Saturday having a 5 p.m. first pitch time and closing out on Sunday on SEC network at noon.
The three have really come into their own with opposing hitters batting .109 off Hilliard, .222 off Vietmeier and .169 off Fontenot. With the added bonus of the Tiger starters now lasting deeper into games, the group is starting to show signs of why it was so highly talked about in the preseason.
Missouri (23-11-1, 5-6-1) are coming into the series on no shortage of confidence after taking two games in a home series against Kentucky last weekend. The home Tigers will do to LSU what most SEC teams have done thus far and that is trot out two left handed pitchers on Friday and Saturday.
Mizzou ace Jacob Cantleberry and Saturday starter TJ Sikkema both carry 3-2 records into the weekend with Sikkema’s ERA slightly lower than Cantleberry’s. LSU has a number of lefty hitters on the roster, something coach Paul Mainieri has stated multiple times doesn’t really concern him because of how well they perform.
“Our record against left handed pitchers is pretty good I think,” Mainieri said. “We’ve faced so many left handed pitchers that I think our lefty batters are pretty used to them now. It’s not that we’re bad against left handed pitchers it’s just that some days we’re not good against whatever pitcher is out there.”
“I thought we did alright against Texas A&M last weekend facing those left handed pitchers,” shortstop Josh Smith said. “I’m still trying to stay aggressive on the fastball whether it’s a righty or a lefty. I try to just hit it up the middle or pull it a little into right field.”
LSU could be getting some of its offensive firepower back in left fielder Daniel Cabrera who has been nursing a thumb injury the last two weeks. Maineiri said Cabrera will go through batting practice Thursday when the team arrives with the hope that he is cleared to play for the weekend.
Pitcher Landon Marceaux didn’t make the trip after pitching two innings against Southern and surrendering five runs but Maineiri said it has nothing to do with performance, instead just getting Marceaux extra treatment on that throwing shoulder. Freshman Chase Costello on the other hand did make the trip and Mainieri said the goal is for him to see some action this weekend.
The Tigers (23-11, 8-4) have responded well on the weekend when losing a midweek outing, most recently winning two of three over then No. 2 Mississippi State after a midweek loss to McNeese State. After a 7-2 loss to Southern on Tuesday night, the Tiger hitters agree that the best way to deal with a midweek loss is too simply put it behind them.
“It’s one of those games that we just have to forget about, it was a tough loss at the time but we have to move on because we have a big series ahead,” centerfielder Zach Watson said.
“That game is over, those guys beat us by just outplaying us but we’re not really focused on that one anymore,” Smith said. “We’re just trying to turn the page and move forward to Missouri because we’re going to lose games but we have to be able to bounce back quickly and make adjustments.”