LSU third baseman O’Neal Lochridge was held out of Saturday’s game against Ball State with a tight back, coach Paul Mainieri said via team spokesman Bill Franques.
Lochridge, who played nine innings of errorless baseball in Friday night’s 7-1, series-opening loss, was replaced in the lineup by Chris Reid, making his first collegiate start.
Reid had just seven career at-bats before Saturday’s game, but one was an inside-the-park home run during the Tigers’ 15-1 rout of Fordham in the first game of a day-night doubleheader March 5. He and Trey Dawson are considered the only backup infielders on the left side.
Mainieri started Dawson at third base in the second game of that Fordham twinbill, a 10-7 come-from-behind win, but pulled him in the sixth inning in favor of Lochridge.
After the game, Mainieri said the team could have probably “forced the issue” but decided to hold Lochridge out, adding he was unsure of Lochridge’s status for Sunday. Reid finished 0-for-3 with two strikeouts, a walk and a run.
Valek face familiar foe
After his team’s 7-1 loss Friday night, Mainieri wondered if those who follow LSU baseball were aware of Ball State’s prestige and style out of the Mid-American Conference.
One Tiger is all too acquainted with the Cardinals.
John Valek III, who will make his fourth LSU start Sunday, will also face the Cardinals for a fourth time, reigniting a conference rivalry from his days at Akron and in the Mid-American Conference.
Speaking Thursday, Valek said he doesn’t remember specific Cardinals hitters, but was wary of the aggressive approach they bring to the plate — something his teammates saw in the 7-1 series opening loss where three of Ball State’s four home runs came on Jared Poche’s first pitch of the at-bat.
“They were always toward the top, always a team that could swing it really well,” Valek said. “Those guys are going to be familiar with me, but I’m going to be familiar with them. I know some of their tendencies, not so much specifically with guys, but facing them for a fourth time I understand their approach as a team.”
Fraley extends hitting streak
Jake Fraley extended his hitting streak to nine games in the first inning of Saturday’s game, smashing the first pitch he saw back up the middle for LSU’s second consecutive single. He was cut down as part of Beau Jordan’s inning ending 6-4-3 double play two batters later.
Hitting streak extended
Antoine Duplantis also extended his team-high hitting streak to 14 games with his third inning RBI double. The true freshman has collected a hit in each of his first 14 collegiate games.