Landon Marceaux stood a few steps outside LSU’s dugout after holding Army to one run in his first collegiate start and said he had pitched “shaky.”
Marceaux had shut down Army for almost his entire outing. He struck out the first batter he faced. He sent down the Black Knights in order four times. He only allowed two hits over 5 ⅔ innings.
Instead of finding comfort in his success, Marceaux clung to the fact he had given up three walks.
“For me,” Marceaux said, “that's unacceptable.”
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Marceaux does not accept less than perfection. The pursuit of it helps make him great. It can also make it hard for him to let go. He knows he can never obtain true perfection in a sport predicated on failure, but he tries anyway, reaching for something he can never fully grasp.
“He expects himself to be perfect on every pitch, and it's not feasible,” coach Paul Mainieri said. “Nobody's perfect on every pitch.”
That’s something Marceaux has learned as he approaches Tuesday’s start at Northwestern State. Growing up, Marceaux said he didn’t struggle much as a pitcher. When he got to LSU, he didn’t allow a run in the fall or spring scrimmages. So, his last start came as a bit of a shock.
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Pitching through cold, bitter wind a little over a week ago at Texas, Marceaux walked four batters and gave up six runs before Mainieri pulled him from the game. He didn’t make it out of the second inning.
“By his own admission, he didn't handle it very well over in Austin,” Mainieri said. “When things started to unravel, he didn't have the composure and poise to take a step off, take a deep breath and make a big pitch and stop the bleeding.”
Marceaux said after the game it was going to be “tough” to move on. He hadn’t experienced such a poor outing in a long time. Later, former LSU pitcher Alex Lange texted him. Lange told Marceaux he gave up six runs to TCU his junior year, a start that also lasted less than two innings.
“Look, it happens to the best of us,” Marceaux said Lange wrote. “Even when we're at our best. We could be at our best, and they could be even better. It happens. It happens to everybody at a certain point. You're not going to be great every time you go out.”
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After the Texas series, Mainieri replaced Marceaux with fellow freshman Cole Henry in LSU’s weekend rotation. Henry pitched well against the Longhorns, and Mainieri wants Marceaux to pitch on the road again, giving Marceaux the chance to prove he can keep his composure during Southeastern Conference games.
Marceaux could return to LSU’s weekend rotation, depending on how he pitches Tuesday and the health of LSU’s other pitchers. Henry left his start on Saturday with tightness in his upper back behind his throwing shoulder. Eric Walker has not regained his pre-Tommy John endurance or form. Jaden Hill remains out with soreness in his arm.
“A lot of it has to do with what happens (Tuesday),” Mainieri said. “We have plan A and we have plan B. We'll see how things go tomorrow with Landon. Hopefully he's going to go out and pitch great.”