Parker Bugg quickly gets a chance to shake off the worst outing of his freshman season.
Bugg, the LSU rookie from San Diego, gets his first college start Tuesday against Alcorn State in a game that is likely to include multiple freshmen starters.
In a four-batter appearance in Saturday’s loss to Tennessee, Bugg walked his first batter. The second, Vincent Jackson, hammered a home run over the right field wall and into the metal bleachers. It was the first homer and just the third extra-base hit that Bugg had given up this season.
Bugg isn’t expected to pitch much longer than two innings against the Braves (8-36). Coach Paul Mainieri plans to piecemeal the game with several relievers and play some freshmen reserve position players as the Tigers (33-11-1) prepare for this weekend’s road trip at Texas A&M.
Bugg will be the 10th pitcher to get a start this season. Mainieri hopes this one helps Bugg forget about the outing against Tennessee.
“He’s a really intelligent kid,” Mainieri said. “Really intelligent kids sometimes have a knack for over-analyzing things when they don’t go well. I figured the best thing for him was to get him back on the horse as quick as possible.”
Bugg has struck out 24 and walked four. He’s evolved into LSU’s late-inning guy who can get the Tigers out of jams.
“He’s been pitching late in tight games where one bad pitch can hurt the team,” Mainieri said. “Consequently when you’re calling the pitches, you’re reluctant to use all of his pitches. You’d hate to get beat by his third-best pitch. By starting the game, it will allow (pitching coach Alan Dunn) to (call) all of his pitches.”
Fraley, Stevenson in
LSU’s lineup is rounding into shape with three regular-season Southeastern Conference series remaining.
Center fielder Andrew Stevenson will remain as LSU’s leadoff hitter, and freshman left fielder Jake Fraley will be an everyday player, Mainieri said Monday.
The coach plans to continue the rotation at catcher between Tyler Moore, Kade Scivicque and Chris Chinea. He’ll determine who plays from that trio on LSU’s starting pitcher. Ace pitcher Aaron Nola likes to pitch to Moore, Mainieri said.
First and second base will also continue to interchange between Kramer Robertson, Conner Hale and Moore. That will depend on the opposing pitcher.
Stevenson has batted leadoff for the past five games, replacing Sean McMullen. McMullen has moved to the cleanup spot as Scivicque and Hale, the previous No. 4 hitters, have moved down in the order.
Nola was “just missing his spots” in the rockiest and shortest outing of the season Friday against Tennessee, Mainieri said.
Nola allowed eight hits and five runs and walked four in 5.2 innings.
“When (Dunn) went back and looked at the tape, Aaron was just missing his spots,” Mainieri said. “His (velocity) was normal, everything was normal, just missing his spots against good hitters, and they were taking advantage of it.”
The SEC scheduling talk bled over to baseball.
The SEC released the format for its future football schedules Sunday. The league is keeping the current eight-game format with the permanent cross-division opponent.
Mainieri said Monday that he wished the conference baseball format would change — he wants to play every team each year.
The coach pushed for the change at a 2012 meeting with SEC baseball coaches. He received little support, and the matter died.
“I’d be all in favor of it. I just think in order to have a true champion, you’ve got to play everybody,” he said.
The SEC released conference baseball schedules for the next 10 years, he said, so the format isn’t likely to change soon. Baseball teams play 10 conference series. LSU won’t play South Carolina, Missouri and Kentucky this season.
After a 3-1 week and a fourth straight SEC series win, LSU moved up a spot in four of the five major polls, while staying the same in one.
The Tigers are ranked Nos. 5, 5, 6, 8 and 9.