Fifteen minutes after notching the first series-opening victory of his career against Florida, LSU starter Cody Glenn matter-of-factly denied any moments of quiet worry taking place during his 11-day layoff between starts.
Passed over for a start Sunday against South Carolina and scratched two hours before McNeese State on Tuesday, Glenn’s trip to the hill Thursday was a hedging of bets by Tigers coach Paul Mainieri.
Put simply, Mainieri didn’t want to squander an effort from ace Aaron Nola as rain drenched Alex Box Stadium. So, onto the soggy field stepped Glenn, who kept it easy and succinct.
“I try to keep it simple and just do what I can,” Glenn said. “That’s pitch when the ball is given to me. I’m not worried about what the coach’s decision is. That’s his job.”
Three hours later, Glenn’s place in the starting rotation might have been shored up in a 3-2 victory — one in which he logged 6.2 innings and two runs on six hits while tying a career high with six strikeouts. And it leaves Mainieri an ideal scenario: Nola and Ryan Eades primed for starts Friday and Saturday.
“If I’d have told you before the game Cody Glenn was going to pitch longer than (Jonathon) Crawford, I’m sure you would have believed me,” Mainieri said. “I’m not sure I would have believed me.”
Glenn, a sophomore, essentially outdueled Crawford — projected as a possible first-round draft choice before the season — who went 5.1 innings and gave up two runs on six hits while striking out four.
“From what I’ve heard, he’s a great pitcher,” Glenn said. “That doesn’t affect how I approach their hitters. I just try do my job: Fill up the zone, get early outs and go as deep in the game as I can.”
Glenn, who needed 103 pitches and only walked one, was mostly efficient, except for a 25-pitch third inning, when Florida got back-to-back bunts with one out from shortstop Cody Dent and leadoff man Richie Martin. Next, he walked second baseman Casey Turgeon to load the bases.
A liner back to Glenn seemed to be an escape chute — but Glenn’s throw home was late, allowing Dent to score, and an off-target throw from Ty Ross left Gushue safe at first and Martin advancing to third.
But Glenn popped up Shafer on the ensuing at-bat, ending the inning.
“That was as well as I’ve ever seen him throw,” Mainieri said. “So many times, he went 3-0 against a hitter and came back threw the strikes he needed to get the out.”
The difference Thursday: Turning his curveball into a means to sit batters down instead of a precursor to his more reliable changeup.
“For the first time all season, I relied big-time on my curveball,” Glenn said. “It’s been like a get-me-over pitch, but tonight, it was a strikeout pitch for me. That and my two-seam (fastball) allowed me to get outs and go deep in the game.”
After Thursday, Mainieri said he sees Glenn occupying the spot Kurt McCune auditioned for Sunday.
“We rolled the dice a little bit, and it worked out for us,” Mainieri said.