That 10-hit, five-run outing against Arkansas last week wasn’t Jared Poché worst outing of his LSU career.
It was the worst of his life, the pitcher said.
“Anxious to get back on the mound,” Poché said through a smile earlier this week.
He’ll get his shot Friday night as LSU (22-3, 4-2 Southeastern Conference), ranked No. 1 in five of six polls, hosts Kentucky (16-9, 2-4) to start a three-game series. Poché hopes to shrug of his poor showing in Fayetteville, and coach Paul Mainieri thinks he will.
“He’ll come back with greater determination than ever before,” the coach said. “He’s not a kid that has self doubts. He’s got a lot of pride. It hurt his pride to get banged around the other day. My guess is he’s going to be very focused.”
Poché, a sophomore from Lutcher, allowed the most hits and earned runs of any of his 22 starts at LSU during that rainy Thursday night affair. He walked two, hit a batter and struck out just one in his first loss of the season.
Poché wasn’t locating as well as he usually does, he said after the game, and Arkansas seemed to “hit everything I threw.”
He’ll face a Kentucky lineup that’s batting .299 and a familiar face in Kentucky’s leadoff spot. Poché played summer ball with UK outfielder Kyle Barrett.
Barrett is batting .391, second on the team, and has an on-base percentage of .464.
“Good hitter. Reminds me a little bit of Mark (Laird). Singles hitter, doubles hitter,” Poché said.
Jack Wholestaff back?
LSU continues its search for a No. 4 starting pitcher, and Mainieri says “Jack Wholestaff” could make his return in that position.
That’s the coach’s term to describe those games in which LSU uses six to eight pitchers.
The Tigers have tried a trio of pitchers in the midweek role and were grooming Baton Rouge native Russell Reynolds to possibly take that No. 4 starting spot. Mainieri said he’s not giving up on Reynolds after one sour outing. He walked four in a 2.2-inning start in the win over Tulane on Tuesday.
LSU may “end up going back to” Norman as the No. 4 guy, the coach said, or use a group of pitchers.
Freshman outfielder Beau Jordan has been cleared to return after spending the last month recovering from a torn meniscus in his right knee, and a pair of relievers might not be available for this weekend’s series against Kentucky.
Jordan, a rookie from Lake Charles, had arthroscopic surgery about a month ago and was cleared by doctors on Thursday morning. A reserve player, Jordan injured the knee during an outfield collision in Game 7 this year.
Pitchers Alden Cartwright and Hunter Devall may not be available this weekend.
Devall is still recovering from a muscle strain in his back, and Cartwright is suffering from the flu. Cartwright didn’t practice Thursday after dealing with a relapse of the illness.
Catcher Kade Scivicque, as expected, practiced Thursday and is set to play this weekend. He suffered a “bad bruise” on his throwing forearm during the game at Tulane.
Christian Ibarra will return as LSU’s first base coach this weekend. The former Tigers third baseman has recovered from the flu that knocked him out of Tuesday’s game at Tulane. Grayson Byrd and Alex Bregman coached first base against the Green Wave. “I’ll retire on that note,” Byrd said Thursday. … Kentucky coach Gary Henderson and Mainieri will coach together this summer on Team U.S.A.
Follow Ross Dellenger on Twitter @DellengerAdv.