With poor weather expected Saturday, LSU and Kentucky shuffled the schedule for this weekend’s series and will play a doubleheader Friday.
“If you believe the Weather Channel, it’s 100 percent chance of rain (Saturday),” LSU coach Paul Mainieri said.
Who: LSU (26-12, 9-6 Southeastern Conference) at Kentucky (26-12, 10-5)
The first game of Friday's doubleheader is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. CDT, and the second game will follow shortly after. The teams will not play Saturday, and the series finale is at noon Sunday.
The teams needed permission from Southeastern Conference commissioner Greg Sankey because of a bylaw that stipulates doubleheaders can’t be played on the first day of a series.
Mainieri and Kentucky coach Nick Mingione pushed for it because Sunday's forecast does not look promising and because LSU has a Thursday-through-Saturday series against Alabama next week.
If LSU were to play twice Sunday, senior left-hander Jared Poché would’ve had to throw on four days' rest next week instead of his regular six days' rest.
“The biggest thing for me was to make sure that, if you can avoid having a pitcher having to throw on four days' rest, it’s obviously a better thing for your kid,” I thought this was the right thing to do for a lot of reasons.”
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The doubleheader plans were formalized Thursday morning before LSU traveled to Kentucky, causing some hectic last-minute changes in plans.
LSU was supposed to depart for Lexington via charter plane at 3 p.m. Thursday but pushed the flight to 4 p.m. to give its players some time to practice. The initial plan was to practice at Kentucky, but Mainieri thought better of it with the shorter turnaround between practice and game time.
Mainieri sent a text message to a group of players to arrive early Thursday afternoon and get some swings against live pitching. Some showed up wearing suits, only to put on practice gear and get to work.
“Rather than practice from 8-10 (p.m. in Lexington), then have to put the tarp on the field for Kentucky, then get back to the hotel at 11 o’clock, I felt the best thing was let’s get a little work done here, and when we get to the hotel the kids can rest for a long day,” Mainieri said.
The first game Friday will at least start with three umpires instead of the usual four, because one umpire is not scheduled to arrive until Friday afternoon.
LSU and Kentucky aren’t the only teams playing two Friday. Mississippi State and Alabama, originally scheduled to play Thursday through Saturday, will wrap up their series with a Friday doubleheader.
LSU’s 10-4 win against Lamar on Tuesday marked the last time it will play in its home ballpark until May.
Starting with Friday’s doubleheader, the Tigers will play seven consecutive road games. Next week, they play a Tuesday contest at Tulane before a Thursday-through-Saturday series at Alabama.
“For us, we won’t come back until Sunday night, then we’ve got to go right back out on Tuesday, come home right after the game, then go right back out on Wednesday,” Mainieri said. “Then there’s final exams right after that.”
LSU won’t play at home again until May 5 against South Carolina.
Though there are obvious drawbacks to playing on the road — from disrupted routine to travel weariness and playing in front of a hostile crowd — there are some perks as well.
“You get a little closer because you’re not going home to your separate houses, you’re at one hotel. ... These next seven games, it might be good for us coming down the home stretch to really get close," senior second baseman Cole Freeman said.
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