Conner Hale feels right at home in the cleanup spot.
At least that’s what Sunday’s series finale against Ole Miss suggested.
Hale found himself back at third base on the lineup card after batting as the designated hitter Saturday. Despite battling a tight shoulder, the senior still picked up three hits in that 5-3 loss to Ole Miss.
With senior second baseman Jared Foster’s bat heating up at the bottom of the order, LSU coach Paul Mainieri decided to move Hale up to the cleanup role from the fifth spot, batting Foster behind him.
Hale responded as well as his coach could have hoped.
“I wasn’t trying to change anything at all by moving from No. 5 to No. 4,” Hale said. “I was just trying to go up there and have good at-bats.”
Hale slammed an RBI single to right field in the first to give the Tigers a 2-0 lead. Two innings later, he led off with a bang. On a 2-1 pitch, he lifted a ball over the right-field wall for his second home run of the season. He added a third hit in the sixth.
Hale was 9-for-13 (.692) at the plate this weekend.
“Whoever is in the cleanup spot is going to do a great job for us … but Conner has had a tremendous year,” junior shortstop Alex Bregman asid. “He’s really seeing it well and squaring it up. The thing with Conner is that he just stays within himself up there. He doesn’t try to do too much ever. If he just keeps up that consistent approach, he will be an RBI machine.”
Foster at second
Senior Jared Foster’s first full weekend at second base went according to plan. Well, except for one minor blunder Sunday.
The former outfielder started all three contests at his new position, starting two double plays in the finale and turning three in the three-game span.
“(The double plays) were the main things I was trying to focus more on,” he said. “It’s been a while, and it’s different over there. But it was good to do that and get some plays in.”
His only mistake came in the third inning, when he short-armed a throw to first base on a slow grounder. First baseman Chris Chinea couldn’t handle the short hop, resulting in Foster’s first error at second base.
Regardless, Foster said he’s feeling comfortable.
“It feels good,” he said. “It feels like I’ve been playing it the whole time. It feels like I’m back home, I guess, considering I never played outfield until I got here.”
Godfrey’s SEC debut
Jake Godfrey’s first Southeastern Conference start had a rocky opening, but the freshman right-hander was able to solve his early control issues to seal his fourth win.
After walking two of the first three hitters he faced, Godfrey settled down to pitch 5.2 innings, allowing three earned runs and striking out two while walking four.
“You just have to keep telling yourself to get back in the zone, don’t worry about other things and grind through it,” Godfrey said. “And I did, and I settled in after that, and we won.”
Center fielder Andrew Stevenson extended his hitting streak to six games after shooting a single to left field in the bottom of the third inning. … Mainieri said sophomore right-hander Russell Reynolds will start Tuesday at Southern. Reynolds is 1-0 with a 5.40 ERA. … Bregman extended his hitting streak to eight games. A play that was ruled an error on Saturday was changed to a hit.