Paul Mainieri takes the field as The LSU Tigers take on Southern Miss in the 2019 NCAA Regional Tournament in Baton Rouge, LA. Sunday, June 2, 2019

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Garic: Inside LSU baseball's matchup vs. Indiana

Kristian Garic
February 14, 2020 - 4:19 pm
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Ready or not, the LSU baseball season begins Friday night with a three game series against Indiana.  The Hoosiers are Big 10 baseball champs.  Indiana skipper Jeff Mercer is wasting no time testing his young baseball team with a trip to Alex Box Stadium.  LSU and Coach Paul Mainieri also bring in a young but talented squad.  The Tigers’ strength at the beginning of the 2020 season appears to be a veteran pitching staff. 

LSU pitching vs Indiana hitting:  This is where the rubber meets the road in this series.  The Tigers will start sophomore right hander Cole Henry in the series opener, followed by sophomores Landon Marceaux and A.J Labas on Saturday and Sunday.  All three LSU pitchers have plus arms, meaning they can bump 93+ MPH with their fastball.  Indiana hit .253 last year as a team and are paced by leadoff man Elijah Dunham at the plate.  The Hoosiers are going to have to get to LSU pitching early in each one of the games.  If the Tigers starting pitching settles in, it could be a long series.  It is opening weekend, so typically pitchers don’t go that deep into ball games.  I expect the max for LSU pitchers to be about 5 innings.

Indiana pitching vs LSU hitting:  The Tigers have just three returning hitters in their lineup from a year ago.  The good news…all three are absolute sluggers.  OF Daniel Cabrera, 1B Cade Beloso, and C Saul Garza are the returning hitters in the lineup.  Indiana is really thin on experience on the bump.  LSU junior college transfer Brock Mathis has been the talk of the spring, and figures to hit third in the order.  LSU has the advantage here despite the youth in the lineup for the Tigers.  

Lagniappe:  One constant, when a northern team comes to the south early in the season, is the timing at the plate and in the field.  Northern teams like Indiana have to battle much tougher weather conditions when they train in the spring.  Usually those teams struggle to field the ball in the opening weekend simply because they haven’t had enough time on task. 

What to look for:  First and foremost healthy arms.  The Tigers struggled to keep pitchers healthy a year ago.  How will some of these guys respond the next day or two days following their first outing of the season will be a huge sign of things to come.  Also, watch the Tigers’ young players like Gavin Dugas, Giovanni DiGiacomo, Cade Doughty and others.  A big factor will be how they respond to the pressure cooker of playing for LSU.  

This is the LSU Baseball Tigers first test of the season.  I expect them to pass the test, but not without a few bumps along the way. 

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