ATHENS, Ga. — Alex Lange just needed to load the bases and wiggle out of it.
He coasted after that, and his arm feels just fine.
Lange pitched six innings of five-hit ball in his debut in the No. 1 role in LSU’s 4-1 win over Georgia in Game 1 of a doubleheader on Saturday. More importantly for LSU fans, the freshman star felt no soreness or tightness in his right arm.
“Feels great,” Lange said afterward.
“No soreness. Really got sharp as the game went on,” coach Paul Mainieri said of his new ace. “Gives us a lot of encouragement.”
Lange took off last weekend’s series against Auburn with elbow tightness. That seems to be long gone.
He battled through a rough first two innings Saturday and then coasted, allowing just two base runners over his final four frames and retiring his last six batters. Georgia had a single double and then Lange walked the next batter to load them in the second before his defense made a pair of plays.
First baseman Chris Chinea threw to home on a bases-loaded groundball for the second out, and Conner Hale snagged a high hopper over his head, tagging a runner for the third out.
“Really excited I could pitch out of that,” Lange said after the game. “That was a big point in the game. After that, I settled in.”
It took Lange 16 batters to get his first strikeout, an inning-ender that stranded a Bulldogs runner at third. He finished with four strikeouts and three walks in about 90 pitches. He was on a pitch count.
“I thought once he got to the third and fourth inning, he got into a groove. He looked like the old Alex,” Mainieri said of Lange. “He was pounding that strike zone, getting his changeup and curveball over. Really became a dominating pitcher at that point.”
Chinea received four stitches to the chin after taking a fastball to the area during the second game Saturday.
In a scary incident that had coaches and trainers rushing from the dugout, the pitch smacked Chinea near the corner of the mouth, dropping him to the dirt and causing blood to spew from the junior’s mouth.
Mainieri said Chinea’s jaw will be X-rayed Sunday morning with hopes that it isn’t fractured.
“You see blood pouring out. You don’t know what you’re going to find,” Mainieri said. “The only thing you’re concerned about is the health of the kid.”
Said Kade Scivicque, close friend to Chinea: “That was very scary for me. I was standing on first base (as a base runner). I was extremely worried.”
Mainieri did not rule out Chinea for Sunday’s game.
Bregman’s rough day
Shortstop Alex Bregman went a whopping 31 games – more than 160 chances – without making an error before last weekend. He’s had four errors in the last six games.
He had two non-throwing errors Saturday after two miscues in the series against Auburn last week. He was picked off in Saturday’s second game and struck out in his first two at-bats in Game 1 – his first two-K game of the season.
He struck out again in the second game for his third of the day. He had eight strikeouts in LSU’s first 38 games entering the day.
“You don’t often find Bregman have three strikeouts and two errors. I’ve never seen him do that and yet he had a couple of hits, hit a couple of balls hard, made a couple of really nice plays,” Mainieri said. “We won two games. Bregman won’t care about anything except for the fact that we won the games.”
Center field web gems
Andrew Stevenson entered Saturday having had 3 hits in his last 30 at-bats. He didn’t take his plate woes to the field.
Stevenson made a pair of hit-stealing catches against the wall in the Tigers series-opening win over Georgia on Saturday. He caught a flyball underhanded as he hammered against the left-center wall to open the fifth inning, and extended his glove toward the top of the wall in a leaping grab to start the sixth.
“His two catches were inspiring to our team,” Mainieri said.
Follow Ross Dellenger on Twitter @DellengerAdv.