LSU’s season is likely in the hands of Jared Poché – again.
Less than a week ago, the Tigers’ grizzled junior sent them into the super regional round with a six-inning, scoreless relief appearance against Rice in a win-or-go-home game.
Now, he’ll have to save LSU’s season — and potentially his college career — again.
Poché likely gets the start at 8 p.m. Sunday in an elimination game against Coastal Carolina in Game 2 of the NCAA tournament Baton Rouge super regional at Alex Box Stadium. The Chanticleers (48-16) beat the Tigers (45-20) 11-8 on Saturday night.
After that game, coach Paul Mainieri said Poché will get the nod Sunday night “if he feels good.”
The Lutcher native would be making his ninth postseason start of a glittering three-year career. Counting that relief appearance Tuesday against the Owls, he’ll appear in a postseason game for a 10th time. LSU’s record in those previous nine games: 8-1.
Poché’s postseason ERA is 2.19, and he has lasted at least six innings in seven of those nine contests. He has walked just 10 and struck out 40 batters in those 10 games — three in the Southeastern Conference tournament, four in an NCAA regional, one in a super regional and one at the College World Series.
“There’s a reason why he’s won 27 games here,” Saturday starter Alex Lange said. “He goes out there, is a competitor and he battles.”
The game won’t be the only thing weighing on his mind.
The San Diego Padres selected Poché in the 14th round Saturday, and Mainieri said he expects the pitcher to skip his senior year and turn professional, he has suggested many times. Poché has not announced a decision but was clearly disappointed when he was not selected in one of the first 10 rounds Thursday and Friday.
“God’s plan,” he posted on his Twitter account after the 10th round ended Friday.
Despite his experience in Baton Rouge, Sunday marks the first game in which Poché will start in an elimination game. He has had no trouble advancing the Tigers to the next round.
He tossed 8.2 innings of six-hit, scoreless ball in a 2-0 win over UNC-Wilmington in the regional final last year. A week later, he five-hit Louisiana-Lafayette in a 6-3 win to send the Tigers to the College World Series.
His outing against Rice on Tuesday may have been his most impressive, though. On just three days of rest, Poché entered to start the third inning and finished six innings later, a one-hit gem in which he struck out six and walked none.
He’s likely throwing on four days of rest now — again with the season on the line.
Quality starts: 5
LSU’s record: 8-1
Earned runs: 13
- vs. Vanderbilt (SEC Tournament, 11-1 W): 7 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 K
- vs. Southeastern Louisiana (NCAA regional, 8-4 W): 6 IP, 8 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 1 K
- vs. Auburn (SEC Tournament, 9-8 W): 1 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 1 K
- vs. UNCW (NCAA regional, 2-0 W): 8.2 IP, 6 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 8 K
- vs. UL-Lafayette (NCAA super regional, 6-3 W): 7.2 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 7 K
- vs. TCU (CWS, 10-3 L): 4.1 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 3 K
- vs. Mississippi State (SEC tournament, 6-2 W): 6.2 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 3 K
- vs. Utah Valley (NCAA regional, 7-1 W), 7-1 W): 6 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 8 K
- vs. Rice (NCAA regional, 5-2 W): 6 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 K
Follow Ross Dellenger on Twitter @RossDellenger.