It wasn’t a perfect outing by LSU freshman right-hander Austin Bain.
But considering his first career start was moved up a day and he had the responsibility of replacing the Southeastern Conference’s ERA leader, Alex Lange, on the mound, LSU coach Paul Mainieri couldn’t be more pleased with his rookie’s performance.
“I thought Austin Bain was really good,” Mainieri said. “I thought he was fantastic.”
Bain showcased his electric arsenal of pitches, touching 92 mph on the radar gun while keeping Auburn’s lineup off-balance with his breaking ball.
The Dutchtown High School alum struck out the leadoff hitter in four consecutive innings, smothering Auburn’s offense until the top of the sixth.
But Bain did have one weakness Saturday: Auburn sophomore center fielder Anfernee Grier went 3-for-5, including an RBI double and an RBI triple off of the LSU freshman.
“He just hit the right pitches in the right counts,” Bain said. “He looked for fastballs, and he got both of them when I left them up in the zone.”
Bain was finished after 5.1 innings, and he allowed four runs on six hits with seven strikeouts and four walks. He threw a career-high 99 pitches.
“I feel like I did good,” Bain said. “There’s a lot of room for improvement. I’m going to take this and do better in my next outing.”
Laird feeling ill
LSU junior right fielder Mark Laird was replaced by freshman Beau Jordan in the top of the seventh inning.
Mainieri said Laird “had a fever and was achy all day,” and he was sent home to rest. Laird’s status for Sunday’s series finale is unknown.
Fraley at DH
In the top of the eighth inning Friday, Jordan replaced sophomore left fielder Jake Fraley.
Mainieri removed Fraley from the game after he experienced tightness in his hamstring. Fraley had missed three games the previous week after pulling his hamstring in the series finale two weekends ago against Kentucky.
But Fraley found himself back in the lineup on Saturday evening, batting as the designated hitter while senior Chris Sciambra got the start in left field.
Fraley finished 1-for-4, and he said his hamstring felt better in the second game of the series.
“I’ll be good to go (Sunday),” Fraley said. “I’ll be in there.”
Mainieri said he’s uncertain who will take the mound to start Sunday’s rubber match, though fans could see multiple arms in the finale.
“I’m pretty certain that you’re going to see several pitchers pitch (Sunday),” Mainieri said. “We’re not going to start a pitcher and expect much more than two or three innings out of that guy. I’m just not sure who the first guy will be.”
There may be a 90 percent chance of rain Sunday, but that hasn’t deterred Mainieri.
“We’re going to put the tarp on the field, but it was supposed to be a washout yesterday, and today was supposed to be a washout,” Mainieri said. “If we’re consistent with our prediction that tomorrow is going to be a washout, then we should be playing with no problem at 1 p.m.”
Fraley has seven doubles this season after he led off the bottom of the first with a soft liner just over Auburn sophomore third baseman Kyler Deese’s head. Fraley had seven doubles all of last season. … LSU senior catcher Kade Scivicque extended his hitting streak to 19 games after stroking a two-out single to center field in the bottom of the fourth inning.