LSU-Alabama rubber match canceled _lowres

Advocate staff photo by CATHERINE THRELKELD -- LSU grounds crew has been busy this weekend.

LSU will have a Saturday night baseball game at Alex Box Stadium after all.

LSU and Alabama will play a split doubleheader Saturday after Friday’s scheduled series opener was rained out. The Tigers (35-13-1, 13-10-1 Southeastern) and Crimson Tide (31-18, 13-11) will meet at noon and 7 p.m.

They were set to play at 7 p.m. Friday in Game 1 and noon Saturday in Game 2 of a key three-game series. Saturday’s normal home night time had been pushed up to noon because of TV.

“I’m sure our fans will enjoy having a Saturday night in the Box,” coach Paul Mainieri said. “We’re kind of used to Saturday nights in the Box, just like we are at Tiger Stadium. Hopefully our fans will endure a long day and will come for both games.”

Alex Box will be cleared after the first game. Tickets for Friday’s game will be good for Saturday’s night contest. Separate tickets are being sold for the noon game.

The series opener will be televised by CST. The 7 p.m. game will not be televised.

It will be LSU’s third doubleheader. Mainieri’s team has lost all four games of the previous DHs.

“We’re not looking at this like it’s a doubleheader,” Mainieri said. “We’re looking at it as two single games — a little different format. Old days in the big leagues, they used to call them day-night doubleheaders. We’ll play at noon, empty the stadium after the game, feed the kids, go relax somewhere and then they’ll come back and be ready for the night game. That’s a different mindset than having to play 45 minutes after the first game ends.”

LSU dropped those doubleheaders — both for weather purposes — at Vanderbilt and at Florida. Saturday’s forecast is a rainy one, too, but Mainieri has been reassured of a rainless window for the first game and said the forecast clears after 7 p.m.

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The teams could play two Sunday if needed; Alabama does not have a travel curfew. Game 3 on Sunday is set for 1 p.m. on CST.

LSU’s and Alabama’s pitching rotation will remain the same, Mainieri said.

LSU ace Aaron Nola (7-1, 1.58 ERA) will start in Game 1 against Bama’s Spencer Turnbull (5-4, 2.38). LSU freshman Jared Poché (6-3, 2.58) meets junior lefty Justin Kamplain (4-3, 3.59) in the nightcap.

Mainieri hopes a break Friday night will be good for a group of players who recently finished final exams. The last day of exams was Friday.

“On a positive note, we did have final exams today,” Mainieri said. “It gives our players a chance to have a good night’s sleep and rest and turn their attention totally to baseball. Semester’s over for all of them.”

The game was called off at 5:50 p.m. Friday, 70 minutes before the scheduled first pitch. It rained so hard at Alex Box that Tiger Stadium, about 200 yards beyond center field, wasn’t visible.

“Can’t fight mother nature,” Mainieri said. “When they decide it’s going to rain, that’s it. You don’t get to play. We just deal with it. Just like you deal with airplane delays and everything else. You deal with whatever comes your way.”

Note: Nola was named to the 30-man midseason Golden Spikes Award watch list, an award given to the top amateur player in the nation. It will continue to be a rolling list until the semifinalists are announced May 27. The award will be presented July 17 in Los Angeles.