Paul Mainieri stepped onto Skip Bertman Field and said to himself, “Something looks different.”
He quickly realized what.
“There are no foul poles!” the coach said.
Both foul poles at Alex Box Stadium were toppled during a fierce thunderstorm that roared across south Louisiana on Monday morning, but the Tigers still will host Alcorn State on Tuesday.
Temporary 20-foot foul poles will be erected for the game between the Tigers (37-7) and Braves (11-36) at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. New foul poles will be installed by the time LSU hosts Missouri in the last home regular-season series May 8-10, Mainieri said.
The storm — with winds of 50-plus mph — snapped the right- and left-field foul poles about 8 feet up from the ground. The poles are estimated to be 30 to 40 feet high.
The storm also mangled the fence atop the right-field bleachers and ripped the infield tarp and the batter’s eye in center field. One of the numerals in former coach Skip Bertman’s retired number (15) was stripped of its coat of paint, too.
“Quite an eventful morning out here at the Box,” Mainieri said Monday afternoon before the Tigers practiced. “Everything can be repaired. Grateful that nobody was injured. Not going to deter us too much.”
It did, however, ruin the possibility of playing a doubleheader against Alcorn on Tuesday to make up for the earlier rainout with Georgia. Alcorn and LSU were in discussions to play twice before the storm hit. Crews need time Tuesday to repair the right-field bleacher’s fence, install the temporary foul poles and tend to other damage around the facility.
Mainieri is searching for another nonconference game so the Tigers can play a full 56-game schedule. LSU cannot play a midweek game next week because of finals. The only other option to make up a game would be playing a doubleheader with UNO on May 12.
Meanwhile, Alex Box was rattled by the severe thunderstorm that swept through the Baton Rouge area. Players arrived for practice in awe.
“Crazy,” third baseman Conner Hale said.
The left-field foul pole cracked and blew onto the playing surface. A work crew sawed the pole into three pieces to transport it out of the park. The right-field pole fell into the concourse and playground behind the wall. It left a gash in LSU’s indoor practice facility, clipping the building’s wall as it fell.
Mainieri wasn’t sure of the cost of the foul poles. They are listed for $3,000 to $5,000 online. The team also will need a new infield tarp after wind ripped the current one.
“It was a crazy morning,” Mainieri said.
Follow Ross Dellenger on Twitter @DellengerAdv.