LSU’s pitching is hot, the team is even hotter and freshman shortstop Alex Bregman might as well be hitting on the sun.
But Columbia, Mo., where the Tigers open a three-game series with Missouri at Taylor Field tonight, can be a cold, cold place this time of year.
Last weekend it snowed in drifts on campus.
That stuff is not in the forecast for the Tigers’ first-ever baseball trip to the SEC newcomer, but it could still be chilly, with temperatures down in the low 40s tonight.
While LSU has never played at Missouri, although the two Tigers did tangle in Baton Rouge twice back in 1986 and 1987, with LSU winning both.
LSU coach Paul Mainieri did drive through the campus one time while coaching at Notre Dame, but has never coached a game there either.
“I think we’re well prepared for whatever happens (with the weather),” Mainieri said. “We’ve played so many games in chilly weather this year — what was it, 36 degrees at game time against Brown? I told the guys after that game, I promise you Columbia, Missouri won’t be any colder than this.”
It should warm up some for the Saturday and Sunday 1 p.m. games, with the Saturday game televised by Fox Sports.
Second-ranked LSU (23-2, 5-1 SEC) has won 17 of its last 18, has matched the best start in school history (also done in 1986 and 1997) and needs two straight wins to break it.
Missouri (9-12, 2-4) is coached by Tim Jamieson, a former teammate of Mainieri’s when both were at the University of New Orleans in the 1970s.
“I know we’ll be ready to play,” Mainieri said.
A lot of it has to do with a pitching staff that has now gone 51 straight innings without giving up more than a single run in any inning.
“That’s something that we preach to our pitchers,” Mainieri said. “If you keep them from putting up a crooked number up on the board, then you’re OK. We take a lot of pride in pitching in the clutch.”
Missouri will try to cool off the red-hot Bregman, who already had four straight three-hit games before running that streak to five with a 4-for-4 night against Tulane Tuesday.
He has raised his average to .443.
“It’s not fake. This kid works harder than anybody I’ve ever seen,” Mainieri said. “And he doesn’t strut around like a prima dona. He’s so unassuming, but the kid believes in himself and he’s got that confidence that he wants to be the one up there at the plate.
“He has a great aura, he just carries himself like a major leaguer.”