FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Paul Mainieri told starting pitcher Jake Godfrey that he would be coming out of the game.
The reaction: “He was really angry at me,” the LSU coach said.
Godfrey had what Mainieri called his best game of the year in LSU’s 7-4, series-clinching win over Arkansas on Saturday, and the emotionally rookie from Illinois wanted his start to continue past the fifth inning.
Sure, Godfrey allowed nine base runners in his five frames, but he struck out a career-high five batters with a nasty sinking fastball that had more sink than usual, teammates said. And he only let one of those nine runners score, continuing his specialty: working out of jams.
He let two base runners on in each the second, fourth and fifth innings.
“His sinker was really sinking today. It was a really, really heavy 92 (mph) sinking down and in at their back foot,” shortstop Alex Bregman said. “As infielders Conner (Hale) and I have to be ready every time he does that. He’s been finding ways to get out of jams using his defense and then also striking people out.”
Godfrey moved to 5-0 with the win for the Tigers (21-3, 4-2 Southeastern Conference), and his ERA is now 2.25. LSU’s two weekend starting freshman pitchers – Godfrey and Alex Lange – are a combined 10-0, have a cumulative ERA of 1.83 and have allowed 14 earned runs in 70 innings on the mound.
Godfrey followed Lange’s solid start with one of his own Saturday in a rubber match in front of nearly 7,000 visiting fans.
“I thought Jake Godfrey really became a man today,” Mainieri said.
Sciambra sparks LSU offense
Turns out, Chris Sciambra had more than that base-clearing triple in his tank.
Sciambra, a night after a three-run triple in his first SEC start since April 4 last year, had hits in his first four at-bats in Thursday’s series finale. The former Catholic High product was 4-for-5 and scored two runs.
He entered the weekend as a reserve player with 14 at-bats on the season. He exits a candidate for an everyday spot with an average of .417. He raised his average 50 spots in the two games – his first back-to-back starts in conference games since April 2013.
“I don’t think we would have won these two games without him. Sparkplug for us,” Mainieri said.
Sciambra helped an LSU offense, in somewhat of a two-game skid, come to life. The Tigers scored a combined five runs in a win over Southern and a loss Thursday here in Fayetteville. They had 21 and 15 hits Friday and Saturday as Mainieri inserted Sciambra at leadoff, moving Jake Fraley to the No. 8 hole and removing Danny Zardon.
Greg Deichmann, a freshman from Metarie who’s mostly recovered from a foot injury suffered during preseason practice, will get about six to seven at-bats on Sunday in a simulated game off of walk-on pitcher Ryan May, Mainieri said. “We’ll see where (Deichmann) is,” the coach said. … Centerfielder Andrew Stevenson extended his hitting streak to a team-leading 10 games, and Mark Laird had his 13th multi-hit game, which leads the team. … The Paul Mainieri Show makes its 2015 debut on Monday night at 7 p.m. live from TJ Ribs Restaurant in Baton Rouge. The weekly one-hour call-in show will air on WDGL 98.1 FM.
Follow Ross Dellenger on Twitter @DellengerAdv.