Austin Bain was an infielder for much of his life before he came to LSU, but his experience last weekend was something new and challenging.
For the past two games of the series against Hawaii, Bain was thrust into a starting role at first base. It was the first career start in the field for Bain, a senior who spent his first three years at LSU solely as a pitcher.
Since he was given a shot to show what he could do as a position player last fall, the vast majority of Bain’s practice has come at second base. It was only late last week when he started practicing with a first baseman’s glove.
“It’s completely different, and I don’t think it’s easy at all,” Bain said about his debut at first. “I told Bryce (Jordan) before the game I have so much more respect for him after trying to play first base.
“Every play, pretty much, a ground ball to the infield, you’re involved in. It’s a complicated postion.”
Bain played well defensively against Hawaii, making 18 plays in 19 chances.
LSU coach Paul Mainieri chalked up the error to Bain’s adapting to the position.
“He reacted properly,” Mainieri said. “He’s just not used to that long glove and caught the ball up on the heel of his glove. It’s hard to get used to for infielders.”
How Bain came to be LSU’s first baseman against Hawaii was a matter of Mainieri trying to assemble his best offensive lineup.
Freshman Daniel Cabrera started all three games in left field — and responded well, with three hits and two RBIs — which pushed Beau Jordan to the designated hitter spot typically occupied by Bain.
Bain pushed Bryce Jordan out of the lineup and delivered four hits in the last two games of the series, both of which LSU won.
“Obviously we won the series and he made a big difference in the lineup,” Mainieri said.
Freshman left-handed pitcher John Kodros debuted in Sunday’s series finale and impressed Mainieri.
Kodros struck out the first batter he faced on three pitches. He needed 12 pitches (nine for strikes) to record a scoreless inning.
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“Awesome,” Mainieri said. “Real happy with him. He’s going to help us.”
Sanders steps up
Junior right-hander Cam Sanders made his first appearance out of the LSU bullpen Sunday, and he provided precisely what Mainieri hoped he might.
Though the game was already in hand, with LSU leading 13-0 in the top of the sixth, Mainieri was pleased with how Sanders handled the situation he was dealt.
Sanders entered the game with a runner on third and one out, and Hawaii cleanup hitter Ethan Lopez was at the plate.
Sanders struck him out on four pitches for the critical second out, then got a ground ball to escape without allowing a run.
“That’s a situation that I had envisioned,” Mainieri said. “He’s going to fill a role for us. He’s a versatile guy, because you can extend him if you need to, or he can come in in the middle of an inning and get you out of a jam because of his stuff.”
LSU rebounded from a series-opening loss by winning its next two games against Hawaii, finishing the first four weeks of its schedule with an …
Odds and ends
LSU has scored in the first inning in six consecutive games, its longest such streak since it scored in the first inning in seven straight games in April 2012. … LSU’s staff ERA in its past 10 games is 2.31. … Antoine Duplantis snapped an 0-for-13 skid with a single in the third inning Sunday.