In a place that’s already seen many memorable runs, LSU will try to make another, though it faces a task it hasn’t yet seen.
With its 6-2 loss in Saturday’s regular-season finale against Florida, LSU secured the No. 5 seed in next week’s Southeastern Conference tournament, matching it against No. 12 seed Tennessee in a single-elimination game at 8 p.m. Tuesday.
The winner of that game plays No. 4 seed Florida on Wednesday.
It marks the first time since the tournament expanded to 12 teams that the Tigers will play on the first day in single-elimination.
“It’s a new experience for us,” LSU coach Paul Mainieri said. “We came up a little bit short of (being a top-four seed). But when we go to Hoover, I never say, ‘Let’s go win a championship.’ We just try to win one game. ... We try to take it one step at a time. And we’ve won it five times taking that attitude. I don’t know how much harder it’ll be. We never experienced it.”
LSU swept Tennessee in Knoxville last weekend. Though Mainieri said he’ll announce a starting pitcher Monday, he hinted after Thursday’s rainout that Alex Lange is the likely choice.
Mainieri on Latz
Left-hander Jake Latz made his SEC debut — just his third appearance of the season — in the seventh inning of Saturday’s 6-2 loss, tossing a scoreless frame with three strikeouts.
Latz allowed a freak double that caromed off second baseman Cole Freeman into left field and walked another, but he showed great feel for his curveball and kept his fastball velocity around 90-92 mph.
Two of Latz’s three strikeouts were looking at the curveball.
“I loved what I saw,” Mainieri said. “I thought he was good. He did what he had to do … I don’t know if he could do more than one inning, maybe at the SEC tournament he’ll be ready to advance beyond one inning, we’ll see. But it gives us another bullet, it gives us another option.”
Bryce Jordan’s hit record
Bryce Jordan may have twin brother Beau as his teammate, but when it comes to being hit by pitches he’s without peer.
Bryce Jordan got plunked twice Saturday, giving him a school record 23 in 2016.
It might be a dubious honor for some, but Bryce wears his bruises like badges of honor.
“I love getting hit,” the sophomore designated hitter said. “It’s another weapon in my game.”
The LSU record for hit by pitches only dates to 1984, the first year Skip Bertman was coach. But considering college teams used to play far fewer games than today’s 56-game regular season, it’s doubtful anyone got hit more often.
Bryce was hit in the fifth inning of Saturday morning’s resumed game, bringing home Jake Fraley with the bases loaded. It was the first of five runs in the frame.
Bryce got hit again in the first inning of the series finale.
If Jordan wants to set an NCAA or SEC record for getting plunked, he’s still got a ways to go. Vanderbilt’s Brian Harris was hit 37 times in 2010.
Mainieri said his team won’t leave for the SEC tournament until after practice Monday. ... Florida shortstop Dalton Guthrie is the son of former LSU pitching great Mark Guthrie, a 15-year major league veteran.