Tigers not fazed by pitching woes

Published 11:00 am Tuesday, May 10, 2022

First-year LSU baseball coach Jay Johnson has already gained a reputation for having a quick hook with pitchers.

But with two of the Tigers’ three starting pitchers not getting out of the first inning last weekend, LSU still managed to win two of three and take the Southeastern Conference series against Alabama.

The Tigers also did it without their top hitter for the final two games after Jacob Berry suffered a hairline fracture on the tip of his right ring finger in batting practice Friday. He played that game, even went 2-for-5 with a run scored and an RBI.

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But he sat out the final two and Johnson said his immediate availability will be based on how he’s able to tolerate the pain.

The Tigers play Southeastern Louisiana today at 6:30 p.m. before their final home SEC weekend series against Ole Miss beginning on Friday.

No injuries were involved with the quick exits for Saturday starting pitcher Blake Money and his Sunday counterpart Samuel Dutton.

It was an aberration for Dutton, who’s been solid in recent weeks and had only given up one run with two outs in the top of the first when Jacob Hasty was summoned to put out a budding fire and pitched four more strong, scoreless innings. Dutton seemed puzzled by his quick exit and Johnson did not seem overly concerned.

But Money did not record an out in Saturday’s game while giving up three runs in the first inning, the third straight game he’s failed to get through the the third inning.

Johnson said Money may pitch in tonight’s game but he wasn’t sure about the weekend plans for the rotation.

Berry leads the Tigers with a .378 batting average and his 15 home runs led the team until Dylan Crews passed him last weekend.

Johnson said the switch-hitting Berry can bat right-handed but is having more trouble left-handed. He’s always been much more effective as a left hander — only one of his home runs is from the right side.

Johnson said he has flexion in the injured finger — a good thing — meaning he can bend it at the joint.

Crews more than made up for Berry’s absence in Tuscaloosa.

The sophomore from Longwood, Fla., was named SEC co-player of the week after going 7-for-11 (.636) over the weekend with a double, three home runs, seven RBIs and five runs scored.

It gave him 16 home runs for the season to edge past Berry.

He shared the honor with Florida catcher BT Riopelle.