Before Opening Day, pitchers Jake Latz, Alex Lange and Jake Godfrey were three of LSU’s most talked-about players in the 2105 freshman class.
But on Wednesday afternoon at Alex Box Stadium, the two remaining two rookie pitchers, right-handers Doug Norman and Austin Bain, stole the show in a 7-1 LSU victory against Grambling.
The road hasn’t been smoothly paved for Norman, whose first two starts resulted in an 0-1 record and a 5.00 ERA. The Fort Mill, South Carolina, native had faced two in-state opponents as the Tigers’ No. 4 starter, allowing 15 hits and five earned runs in nine total innings against Nicholls State and Southeastern Louisiana.
But with each start, Norman has started to find the elements he needs to become a midweek starter.
“Each start, I’m learning something different,” Norman said. “The other games that the other guys are starting, I’m just trying to learn as much as I can. Each game is definitely a learning experience.”
Following his debut Feb. 18, Norman said he believed he “threw too many strikes.” After his next outing a week later, he wanted to use his slider more effectively.
He was finally able to complete the puzzle as LSU (12-1) defeated Grambling (2-9).
Norman threw four innings of one-run baseball, allowing five hits and striking out two with no walks. The rookie threw 38 of his 55 pitches for strikes, picking up his first career victory in the process.
“I really wanted to try to get as much power behind each one of my pitches as I could,” Norman said. “I tried to get on top of it and not let my arm drag. I just threw the crap out of the ball.”
He said his fourth inning against Grambling was the best inning he had thrown all year.
Though Norman was only at 55 pitches, Mainieri went to the bullpen in the top of the fifth inning, bringing in Bain.
Bain continued to silence the Grambling bats.
The Geismar native was electric for two innings, allowing no hits and striking out three. He threw a mere 26 pitches.
Now with four appearances under his belt, Bain is quickly becoming a key piece in Mainieri’s arsenal.
“I feel like I’m getting a little more used to the atmosphere and Alex Box Stadium,” Bain said. “I like it.”
With the rookie duo’s performances on the mound, the LSU offense didn’t have to provide a lot of run support.
But just to be safe, the Tigers’ bats lit up the Alex Box scoreboard anyway.
Sophomore left fielder Jake Fraley, junior shortstop Alex Bregman and seniors Jared Foster and Kade Scivicque all had multi-hit games, combining for four RBIs. Foster launched his second home run of the season over the left-field wall in the bottom of the eighth inning to give LSU an 7-1 advantage.
Add on the fact that four other relievers — Collin Strall, Russell Reynolds, Alden Cartwright and Jesse Stallings — combined to throw three no-hit innings, and LSU easily capped its midweek schedule prior to heading to Houston this weekend.
Going into the Houston College Classic, Bregman said he’s confident in whoever Mainieri decides to put on the mound.
“I think they’re doing a good job,” Bregman said. “There’s going to be some bumps down the road for them, but they’re going to overcome it because they have such great character. All of those guys go out there and compete and give us a chance to win.”