A heroic opening night will lead to a first career start.
Jordan Romero will start in place of Mike Papierski in Sunday’s series finale against Cincinnati — an expected move from LSU coach Paul Mainieri, who typically doesn’t have his catchers work a full weekend series until closer to Southeastern Conference play.
In Friday’s 6-5 season-opening victory, Romero came off the bench for a ninth-inning, game-tying hit, then had the game-winning single in the 12th.
Mainieri is tinkering with a few more lineup changes for Sunday, he said — including one that involves his struggling shortstop, Trey Dawson.
Dawson — who hit into a double play Friday before striking out three times on Saturday and committing an error — battled pink eye earlier in the week but was cleared to play in the series opener.
“It’s a pretty big stage,” Mainieri said. “I’m thinking I might let him sit tomorrow and watch a game, see if that helps. Play (Cole) Freeman at shortstop and probably plug (O’Neal) Lochridge at third and give him a start. We’ll see. (Dawson’s) a good kid and he’s trying really hard.”
Valek happy for two off days
John Valek III saw numerous LSU baseball games in various venues, including the since-demolished Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha, Nebraska.
He was a frequent guest of the Ochinko family when Sean Ochinko, an LSU first baseman from 2007-09, played for the Tigers. Valek was coached by Pete, Sean’s father, in travel ball.
“But the new Box here,” Valek marveled Saturday. “It was good to get two games under my belt just to see the atmosphere, see how everything was run, see the routine and all that and watching (Jared) Poché and Alex (Lange) start, seeing their routine, and everything is going to help me, I think.”
The Akron senior transfer and college baseball veteran of more than 260 innings will make his first LSU start Sunday, looking to follow two solid starts of six or more innings from Poche and Lange.
“It was good to see these last two games come out with wins,” Valek said. “Come out tomorrow and (try to) give the team a chance to win. I’m excited.”