At practice Sunday, LSU coach Paul Mainieri laughed as reporters tried to guess who would be the Tigers' starting pitcher Monday for Game 1 of the College World Series final against Florida.
"You guys are way off," Mainieri said as names like Todd Peterson and Nick Bush were thrown out.
So they meet again ... the LSU Tigers and Florida Gators.
Turns out the coach was true to his word, naming little-used senior right-hander Russell Reynolds as his choice. Reynolds' start Monday at 6 p.m. will be the right hander's first since 2015.
Reynolds is 1-1 this season with an 8.59 earned run average in 14 appearances with just 14.2 total innings of work.
Reynolds did pitch an inning in LSU’s 13-1 loss last Monday to Oregon State. He came on in the eighth, allowing one hit and a walk but no runs.
Reynolds, who went to Parkview Baptist in Baton Rouge, is known as one of the team's most fearless pitchers.
"It won't be too big for Reynolds," Mainieri said. "He won't be afraid."
ROCK. If I know one thing... I trust @RReynolds45 with my life more than anyone else if I'm in a live or die situation. LOVE THIS DECISION!— Alden Cartwright (@ACartwright32) June 25, 2017
Mainieri also said Peterson, who has three starts this season, "has a tender arm and just isn't himself right now."
Florida, meanwhile, will counter with one of its best pitchers: sophomore righty Brady Singer (8-5, 3.18 ERA).
OMAHA, Neb. — In the convention hall rising behind TD Ameritrade Park’s center-field stands …
At a Sunday morning news conference, Mainieri said he was undecided about who to start Monday, but had strong convictions about what to do with his two best starting pitchers: Alex Lange and Jared Poche.
He said he wouldn’t use Lange until Wednesday’s “if necessary” Game 3, leaving Poche to start Game 2 on Tuesday.
Lange (10-5, 2.97 earned run average) pitched 7.1 innings of one run, two-hit ball Friday in a 3-1 victory over Oregon State.
“I just feel in my heart that it’s the right thing to do,” Mainieri said. “He’s got a long (professional) career ahead of him. He’s never pitched on three days rest before, so I don’t know how effective he would be.”
Saving Poche (12-3, 3.33 ERA) until Game 2 will allow the senior left-hander to work on five days rest, Mainieri said. Poche pitched eight innings of four run ball (three earned) Wednesday in a 7-4 win over Florida State.
Poche, who became LSU’s career leader in wins with 39 in his last start, said he couldn’t imagine going out a better way than making his last start with a national championship at stake.
"It’s what every college pitcher would hope for,” he said.
LSU’s starting pitching situation is complicated by the loss of No. 3 weekend starter Eric Walker to an arm injury last Monday. Mainieri said he wouldn’t allow Walker to pitch again in Omaha.
The championship series opener begins Monday at 6 p.m. at TD Ameritrade Park. Game 2 will be Tuesday at 7 p.m. An if-necessary Game 3 will be Wednesday at 7 p.m.
All games will be broadcast on ESPN.
OMAHA, Neb. — Beau Jordan’s solo home run into the LSU bullpen in the sixth inning Saturday …