When LSU practiced at Minute Maid Park in Houston on Thursday night, coach Paul Mainieri watched senior Jordan Romero put on a show.
“He was really clobbering the ball,” Mainieri said. “His bat speed looked good, he looked confident.”
That, combined with the thought that Romero would handle the big-time atmosphere well, was enough to prompt a change in Mainieri’s lineup. He was originally planning to start sophomore Chris Reid at the designated hitter spot.
“Jordan is a little bit of a streaky hitter,” Mainieri said. “With some guys, batting practice doesn’t have anything to do with the game. But in Jordan’s case, when he’s swinging good in batting practice, he takes it into the game. When he’s not swinging good in batting practice, sometimes he doesn’t swing the bat as well in the game either.
“I decided to go with my gut feeling and give him a chance, and I’m glad I did. He did extremely well, and I thought he had some big at-bats for us.”
Romero, who had gone hitless in four at-bats season before this weekend, finished the weekend starting all three games at designated hitter. He went 4-for-10 with a pair of walks and two runs batted in.
Still, Mainieri would not go as far to say Romero would be back in the designated hitter spot when LSU returns to the field Tuesday against San Diego.
He likes what he’s seen out of the two previous starters, Bryce Adams and Rankin Woley. Mainieri also called Reid a “good option.” He called the position “fluid.”
“At this point, I just don’t want to commit to any one guy because I don’t think it would be the right thing to do,” Mainieri said.
LSU drops in rankings
LSU took its first across the board fall in the Top-25 rankings after posting a 1-2 record this weekend in Houston.
A consensus top-five team last week, LSU didn't drop far after dropping games to consensus No. 1 TCU and Texas Tech. But the Tigers did find themselves outside of the top five for the first time this season in each major poll.
LSU is ranked No. 6 in the Collegiate Baseball, Perfect Game and Baseball America rankings, and No. 7 in the D1 Baseball rankings.
LSU was not the only Southeastern Conference team to slide. While Florida held steady as a consensus top-three team, Vanderbilt, South Carolina, Texas A&M and Ole Miss all dropped considerably in nearly every ranking.
Louisiana-Lafayette remains the only ranked team in the state outside of LSU. The Cajuns vaulted into the top-10 in Perfect Game's rankings after taking a weekend series against Southern Miss and moved up one spot to No. 15 in both the D1 Baseball and Baseball America rankings.
Another honor for Poché
LSU senior left-hander Jared Poché was named the SEC co-Pitcher of the Week Monday after logging seven shutout innings in LSU's 4-0 win against Baylor on Saturday.
Poché extended his shutout innings streak to 22 to start the season and added Monday's award to a season list that already included an SEC Pitcher of the Week and two National Player of the Week honors.
He shared this week's honor with Auburn pitcher Keegan Thompson, who fired seven shutout innings against Lipscomb to run his own consecutive scoreless innings streak to 21.
Freshman reliever Todd Peterson experienced his first bump in the road Sunday against Texas Tech, allowing three earned runs in a third of an inning, giving up a 3-1 lead in a game LSU eventually lost 5-4. In his four previous appearances, Peterson did not give up a run in 5.2 innings.
An experience like the one he had against Texas Tech is necessary for the youngster to develop, Mainieri said.
“How is a guy like Todd Peterson going to continue to grow as a player if you don’t keep putting him in those situations?” Mainieri said. “Just because you put him in the situation doesn’t mean … he’s going to be ultra-successful every time. The game is hard. Texas Tech is a good team.”
Hess to start Tuesday
Freshman right-hander Zack Hess will start Tuesday’s game against San Diego.
Mainieri has stuck with his original plan of using the first three weeks of the season to determine how he would proceed with the Sunday spot in his rotation as the season progresses, meaning this is Hess’ final audition for that spot.
In two previous starts against Hofstra and Nicholls State, Hess has allowed two earned runs and struck out 10 in 9.2 innings.