Two and a half hours before Jared Poché threw LSU’s first pitch Friday night against Fordham, another promising left-hander stayed on track to his recovery.
Jake Latz, recovering from November surgery, threw to a crouching catcher from 105 feet as pitching coach Alan Dunn and trainer Cory Couture looked on in right field. Latz said after the session he progressed from 50 percent at the start to 90 percent and felt good throughout the session.
Coaches insist they will take a one-day-at-a-time approach with Latz, who is now throwing every other day. LSU coach Paul Mainieri has said numerous times he’s “holding out hope” for a late April return for Latz.
Latz threw 10 shutout innings this fall before feeling irritation in the elbow as he pitched the 11th. Doctors inserted a screw near the bone in his throwing elbow Nov. 9 — the latest setback for the Illinois native.
Latz turned down about $900,000 during the MLB draft in 2014 to come to school and, as a freshman last year, was expected to compete for a spot in the weekend rotation before suffering from a stress reaction in his elbow. He never threw a pitch last year.
The stress reaction turned into a stress fracture this fall, further delaying a promising career that hasn’t yet started.
Latz was the 2014 Illinois Player of the Year, and he was the third-highest drafted high school player in the class — an 11th-round pick by the Blue Jays — not to sign a professional contract.
Freshman right fielder Antoine Duplantis has started his LSU baseball career with a nine-game hitting streak.
His up-the-gut single led off the fourth and extended his season-opening streak. Duplantis, a rookie from Lafayette, entered the game with 12 hits, including three doubles.
Conner Hale started last season with a 16-game hitting streak.
“The two weeks before the start of the season he really wasn’t swinging the bat like he did all fall,” Mainieri said of Duplantis. “Andy and I had a heart to heart with him and said, ‘Look, you’re not a slap hitter. You’re a hitter.’ I think since the season has begun, he’s really swung it with more aggressiveness.”
Kramer Robertson made his shortstop debut at Alex Box Stadium in style.
The Texas junior and leadoff man singled to reach base for the ninth straight game to open the season. Robertson made two routine plays in the second inning before an unusual error in the third.
Robertson tracked down a ball behind second base but threw 4 feet over first baseman Bryce Jordan’s head. It was ruled a hit and an error. The runner moved to third.
Robertson saved his best play for the fifth. He made a diving stop on a sharply hit grounder in the hole and then hummed to home plate to put out Joseph Runco and end the frame.
Freshman Chris Reid, a St. Michael graduate, got the first hit of his LSU baseball career, an RBI single in the sixth inning Friday. Mainieri inserted Reid at third base to start the fifth. Reid replaced starting third baseman O’Neal Lochridge. Lochdrige appeared to lag on the base path in the fourth inning, but Mainieri said there was no injury. … A tweaked groin didn’t slow down Beau Jordan. The 5-foot-9, 209-pound sophomore from Lake Charles hurt his groin while lifting weights Thursday morning, but he started in left field for the Tigers on Friday night. Mainieri said Thursday afternoon that Jordan’s status was uncertain. … Poché became the fourth pitcher under Mainieri to win at least 20 games, joining Aaron Nola (30), Louis Coleman (24) and Jared Bradford (20).