Jared Foster is back.
LSU starting second baseman Foster had his eligibility restored after winning an appeal battle with LSU and has been reinstated to the baseball team.
Foster received the news Tuesday after an appeal meeting earlier in the day, and the senior will travel with the team to the final regular season road series at South Carolina.
He won his appeal based on what coach Paul Maineri termed an “obscure” NCAA rule.
A student athlete must pass six hours of classes in the semester to remain eligible for the postseason. The hours, it was first thought, must only go toward that player’s specific major.
That’s not necessarily the case, the coach said.
“He passed the classes,” Mainieri said of Foster, a sports administration major. “He just didn’t pass them with a high enough grade in his specific major, but because he passed the classes and because those classes would be accepted by other majors at our institution, they still count as having passed credits in the six-hour rule thing.”
LSU “confirmed” the ruling with the NCAA and the Southeastern Conference, Mainieri said after the Tigers (44-8, 19-7) beat UNO 9-1 on Tuesday night without Foster.
“Both told us absolutely,” the coach said. “He, basically, was never ineligible.”
Mainieri said Foster will “most probably” return to the starting lineup against the Gamecocks (30-22, 12-15).
Foster had been ruled academically ineligible for the rest of the season – stunning, career-ending news that surfaced on the day of LSU’s series opener against Missouri on Friday.
Foster’s return is a massive boost for a team ranked as the consensus No. 1-ranked squad in the nation for the fourth straight week.
Foster’s replacement, Danny Zardon, struck out six times in nine at-bats in three games against Missouri last weekend and he committed an error in one inning in the field on Tuesday. He also committed an error in the ninth inning of Sunday’s game against Missouri.
Mainieri started Grayson Byrd at second base Tuesday in the win over UNO.
“I’m really happy to welcome Jared back to the team,” Mainieri said. “He has not been an ounce of trouble for four years.”
Foster was in the midst of his most productive season following a year in which he hit .115. He’s batting .275 with eight home runs, tied for the team lead last week.
He’s got a .506 slugging percentage. LSU is down backup second baseman Kramer Robertson, out at least two more weeks with an elbow injury. Robertson started the season at second before a demotion.
“It’s just a weird rule,” shortstop Alex Bregman said of the Foster situation. “We love Jared. We’re really happy how everything worked out. Now he’s going to be able to be with us to make our final push to our goals this year. He’s a great kid.”
Foster, who has mostly played left field during his college career, began this season lightning hot at the plate. To keep him and left fielder Jake Fraley in the lineup at the same time, Foster was moved from the outfield to second base — a position he hadn’t played since high school. He had 40 starts in LSU’s first 48 games.
He has made eight errors for a .957 fielding percentage. Foster, a Lake Charles native, walked on to the football and baseball teams at LSU before dropping the former.
He rejoined the football team last summer, called by offensive coordinator Cam Cameron in a recruiting pitch to be a reserve quarterback. He injured his foot during fall camp, a lingering injury that needed minor surgery.
Foster had slipped recently at the plate. He was 5 for his last 29 and he hadn’t hit a homer in 14 games. His batting average had dropped by 52 points over the last six weeks. He was still a key player on a squad that most expect to claim a top eight NCAA national seed.