Veterans Jared Poché, Jake Fraley carry LSU to regional-opening victory against Utah Valley _lowres

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- LSU pitcher Jake Latz (67) pitches against Utah Valley during Game 1 of the NCAA 2016 Baton Rouge Regional between LSU and Utah Valley, Friday, June 3, 2016, at LSU's Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field in Baton Rouge, La.

Redshirt freshman Jake Latz will start LSU’s 4 p.m. regional championship game against Rice, coach Paul Mainieri said during batting practice.

Latz, who started LSU’s SEC tournament opener against Tennessee, has yet to throw more than 36 pitches this season and has not pitched three full innings in an outing.

Coaches are bringing the prized left-hander back gradually after he had surgery in November to correct a stress reaction in his left elbow, which caused him to miss his true freshman season. Latz was an 11th round draft pick in 2014.

Latz struck out two in one inning of work during the Tigers’ 7-1, regional-opening win against Utah Valley. He’s got 10 strikeouts in 6.1 innings this season, most coming on his power curveball.

Latz gets the nod over fellow lefty Jared Poche, whom coach Paul Mainieri said was a “possibility” to return on three days rest for this afternoon’s winner-take-all game. Poche threw 92 pitches in the Tigers’ opening round win against Utah Valley.

Aside from ace Alex Lange, who threw 112 pitches against Rice on Sunday, LSU should have a plethora of pitching available. Parker Bugg, who has recorded ten-out saves this season, has not pitched in the regional. Hunter Newman, Mainieri’s closer, has thrown 12 pitches.

The Tigers used seven pitchers in their 10-6 loss to Rice on Monday, but none threw more than 34 pitches.