LSU baseball coach Paul Mainieri is still searching for a No. 3 starter.
He might give Alden Cartwright another crack at it this weekend.
Cartwright, a freshman out of Runnels, could start Sunday against Tennessee if he’s not used in the first two games of the three-game set with the Volunteers.
Ace Aaron Nola will start Friday, and freshman Jared Poché gets the nod Saturday.
Cartwright started in the series-clinching win last Saturday at Ole Miss, retiring the first 10 batters he faced. He was the fifth different starter used in six Southeastern Conference series finales.
“I don’t want to say Cartwright’s going to start on Sunday. We could use Alden on Friday or Saturday,” Mainieri said. “If he hasn’t pitched in the first two games, I’d say it’s probable that he’ll start Sunday.”
The surging Tigers (31-10-1, 10-7-1 SEC) host the slumping Volunteers (25-14, 7-11) starting Friday. LSU has won 11 of 13 games, while Tennessee has lost back-to-back SEC series and dropped a 9-7 decision to East Tennessee State on Tuesday.
Still, the Tigers don’t have a solid third starting hurler. Kyle Bouman started the season in that role before missing more than two weeks with a sprained ankle. He somewhat struggled upon his return.
He pitched 4.2 innings in a win over Tulane on Tuesday, and Mainieri said the junior will be available Sunday but not necessarily to start.
“Even if we don’t start him on Sunday, there’s going to be a time when we need him for a fourth game. Could be the SEC Tournament, could be a regional,” Mainieri said after Tuesday’s game.
Louisiana duo in Omaha?
Asked if he looks at LSU’s RPI, Mainieri smiled.
“Only about every two hours,” he said laughing. “It’s my life.”
LSU entered this week with an official NCAA RPI of 13. Louisiana-Lafayette was 14th.
The NCAA selection committee relies on the RPI when choosing and seeding teams.
For now, both teams are projected to host NCAA regionals in NCAA tournament projections released this week from Perfect Game, Baseball America and College Baseball Daily.
In all of those projections, UL-Lafayette (37-5) is predicted to receive a top-8 national seed and host a super regional. LSU is projected as a national seed in just one projection.
Perfect Game has UL-Lafayette and LSU paired to meet in a super regional in Lafayette.
Mainieri hopes that doesn’t happen.
“I hope we don’t have to meet each other in the regional, super regional. I’d like to see both of us to get to Omaha,” the coach said Wednesday. “If it happens, it happens. We can’t control that.”
College Baseball Daily has LSU as a national seed, and Baseball America has the Tigers on the bubble to receive one of the top eight seeds.
LSU has 14 games remaining, including four SEC conference series. The Tigers are two wins behind SEC West and overall leader Alabama.
“If we win the SEC or even win the SEC West with over 40 wins, it would be hard for me to believe we won’t be a national seed,” Mainieri said, “but who knows?”
Reynolds 100 percent
LSU pitcher Russell Reynolds, a former Parkview Baptist star, has returned to 100 percent and has completed his rehabilitation from shoulder surgery but will not play this season.
Reynolds will redshirt this season, his sophomore year.
He threw his sixth bullpen session Wednesday as part of a six-week long throwing program while recovering from a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder. He’ll complete the throwing program at the end of this week.
He threw 45 pitches during the session Wednesday.
“Feels good, back to 100 percent,” he said. “Ready to get to summer ball. Only got 14 games left. No point in wasting a redshirt (this season).”
Reynolds started four games last season and had a 1.89 ERA before the injury sidelined him midway through the year.
Broussard on watch list
LSU closer Joe Broussard was one of 50 players named to the mid-season watch list for the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Stopper of the Year Award.
The award is given to the top relief pitcher in NCAA Division I baseball.
Broussard has an ERA of 0.40. He’s struck out 21 in 22.2 innings pitched.