The last time Jared Poché pitched on four days of rest was in the playoffs during his senior year at Lutcher High.
He’ll get another crack at it when No. 1 LSU (35-6, 12-5 Southeastern) and No. 2 Texas A&M (36-5, 12-5) meet in the series opener Thursday at Alex Box Stadium.
After tossing Game 2 of a doubleheader on Saturday at Georgia, Poché is expected to toe the rubber, swapping spots with freshman Alex Lange. The LSU sophomore southpaw said he isn’t concerned about his arm this weekend after the short rest.
“I feel good,” Poché said. “It’s two less days, but working with (pitching coach Alan Dunn), we kind of modified playing how we normally do. Arm-wise, I’m feeling great.”
LSU coach Paul Mainieri made the change in the rotation following last weekend’s rain-shortened series against the Bulldogs, where both Poché and Lange combined to toss 13 innings of two-run, nine-hit baseball.
Though Mainieri believed Lange could have handled a Thursday start, he felt Poché was better-suited for the outing on short rest.
“I think Jared Poché’s style of pitching and his veteran experience lends him to coming back on shorter rest a little better than Alex (Lange),” Mainieri said.
The change also benefits Lange’s health. He missed the weekend prior against Auburn after experiencing “elbow tightness.”
After limiting Georgia to five hits in six innings of work in his latest outing, though, Lange said he’s healthy and prepared for the Aggies this weekend.
“Last weekend was good,” Lange said. “I threw about 85 pitches or something like that, which was about where we wanted to be. I feel strong, I feel healthy, and I’m ready to go.”
A packed Box
Jared Foster expects Alex Box to get a little wild this weekend when No. 1 LSU battles No. 2 Texas A&M. This weekend might be the first time a No. 1 and a No. 2 have ever squared off in Baton Rouge, and all three contests against the Aggies are sold out and on television.
“I want to see people with their shirts off in the outfield and stuff,” Foster said. “That would be kind of cool.”
Despite the overwhelming attendance numbers expected over the weekend, Foster said he won’t have too much anxiety. After experiencing primetime contests in Hoover, Alabama, and Omaha over his four-year career, he now simply embraces the big-game atmosphere.
“It’s more of an excitement,” Foster said. “We’re going to be pumped up more than nervous. We’ll have butterflies before the game with it being a big series, but we’re just going to come out and have fun with it.”
Godfrey in the pen
Freshman right-hander Jake Godfrey didn’t take the preferred route to the bullpen. After being the Tigers’ No. 3 starter for eight weekends, the Illinois native was moved to the pen following back-to-back rough outings.
But on Tuesday against Tulane, Godfrey displayed his electric arsenal of pitches as a reliever, hitting 94 mph on the radar gun while striking out three in two perfect frames.
“You feel fresh,” Godfrey said. “You can let it go a little bit more since you’re only going to go one or two innings.”
The rookie said that letting loose has added more life to all of his pitches.
“It made me learn a lot of things,” Godfrey said. “It’s really helped get all of my stuff working again.”
The SEC Network’s alternate channel will air Game 2 on Friday between LSU and Texas A&M, giving the series three televised games: ESPN2 on Thursday, SEC Network on Friday and ESPN on Saturday. … When LSU and the Aggies meet, A&M catcher Michael Barash makes his return to Alex Box since leaving the program before the 2014 season. Barash, a Florida native, has started 29 games and is batting .257 for the Aggies. “I wouldn’t think that he has animosity at all,” Mainieri said of the junior. “I can tell you we don’t. I love the kid, and I’m looking forward to seeing him and saying hello to him.”
LSU (35-6, 12-5 SEC) vs. Texas A&M (36-5, 12-5)
When: 6:30 p.m. Thursday
Where: Alex Box Stadium, Baton Rouge
Rankings: LSU is ranked as the No. 1 team in the nation in all six polls. Texas A&M is ranked No. 2 or No. 3 in all of the rankings.
Projected starting pitchers:
- Thursday: A&M Jr. RHP Grayson Long (8-0, 2.73) vs. LSU So. LHP Jared Poché (7-1, 2.90)
- Friday: A&M So. RHP Ryan Hendrix (3-0, 1.40) vs. LSU Fr. RHP Alex Lange (7-0, 1.40)
- Saturday: A&M TBA vs. Fr. RHP Austin Bain (1-1, 3.07)
TV: Thursday on ESPN2, Friday on SEC Network Alternate, Saturday on ESPN
Online Streaming: Online only at SEC Network-plus, which is accessible at SECNetwork.com and the Watch ESPN app.
Radio: WDGL 98.1 FM (Baton Rouge); KLWB 103.7 FM (Lafayette); WWL 870 AM, WWL 105.3 FM (New Orleans)
In-game updates: @DellengerAdv, @BarrecaAdvocate
Follow Ross Dellenger on Twitter @DellengerAdv.