Gamecocks boast power hitting, pitching
The wind could have a big effect on the LSU’s home Southeastern Conference series with No. 11 South Carolina beginning tonight.
That’s if the forecast of torrential rains over the next few days doesn’t make it all a moot point.
“I hope not,” LSU coach Paul Mainieri said of the rain. “Baton Rouge weather, it’s been a crazy week already … the SEC is pretty magical in getting the games in. We’ll do what we can.”
The Tigers had their midweek game with Grambling State washed out, which deep-sixed Mainieri’s planned trial run with a revamped bullpen.
LSU starting pitching for the most part has been good enough to win. Devin Fontenot and freshman Garrett Edwards of Pitkin have been fairly solid at the back end.
Bridging the gap to them has been a little dicier.
“We’re going to go with some of the younger kids, take a couple of guys off the active (30-man) roster and put a couple of the younger guys on, see if we can’t get a little more production out of the bullpen,” Mainieri said.
Mainieri said he’ll add two freshmen in Theo Millas (1-0, 3.86 ERA) and Javen Coleman (1-0, 7.71) , along with sophomore Alex Brady (1-0, 9.53).
None have numbers that jump out at you, but Mainieri said he’s seen encouraging signs in them as the season progressed.
It’s a key series for LSU (20-12, 3-9 SEC), which needs to build on taking two of three at Kentucky last weekend to chip away in the conference standings, where they’re tied for fifth in the West with Texas A&M, 11th with the Aggies overall.
South Carolina (21-9, 8-4), which swept the Tigers the last time they met in 2018, has won its last three SEC series.
“I sound like a broken record (in the SEC),” Mainieri said. “They’ve got some real power arms. Guys that really throw the ball hard.”
Thomas Farr and Brannon Jordan are in the top six among SEC pitchers in strikeouts.
The Gamecocks staff is No. 2 in the SEC in whiffs, behind only the Mississippi State corps that struck out 31 Tigers in the three games of the conference-opening series.
“Their closer (Brett Kerry) averages almost two strikeouts an inning,” Mainieri said. “Just power arm after power arm.”
Same at the plate, where the Gamecocks are built for their home run-cozy ballpark.
“They don’t steal a lot of bases,” Mainieri said. “Power arms and power bats. That’s what we’re in store for. They can outslug you and strike a lot of batters out.”
LSU also relies on the long ball, so notoriously fickle April winds at Alex Box Stadium could be a big factor.”
“The wind is going to be a factor, which way it’s blowing,” Mainieri said. “Early forecast is that it’s going to be blowing straight in from right (Thursday), other two days straight in from left.”
6:30 p.m. Today, ESPNU
USC, RH Thomas Farr (2-2, 3.25 ERA, 44.1 IP, 11 BB, 55 SO) vs. LSU, RH Landon Marceaux (3-3, 1.89 ERA, 47.2 IP, 11 BB, 55 SO).
7 p.m. Friday
USC, RH Brannon Jordan (4-3, 3.02 ERA, 41.2 IP, 24 BB, 66 SO) vs. LSU, RH AJ Labas (2-0, 3.43 ERA, 44.2 IP, 8 BB, 46 SO).
2 p.m. Saturday
USC, RH Will Sanders (5-1, 2.51 ERA, 32.1 IP, 5 BB, 36 SO) vs. LSU, TBA.