Hosting an NCAA regional often allows teams to reserve their best starting pitcher for what will likely be a more difficult opponent the second game of the weekend, but this year, LSU doesn't have that choice.
Landon Marceaux will start Friday night against No. 2 Gonzaga, coach Paul Mainieri said, as No. 3 LSU tries to move into the winner’s bracket of the Eugene Regional.
As for what LSU will do the rest of the weekend, Mainieri said, “I'm going to keep that close to the vest if I can.”
In its first NCAA tournament game, LSU will play Gonzaga, a team that nearly hosted a regional itself.
Marceaux, a junior right-hander, has been LSU’s ace all season. He recorded a 2.26 ERA over 15 starts, and he believes he completed one of his best outings last week in the Southeastern Conference tournament. Though LSU lost, Marceaux pitched eight innings. He allowed four runs, all in the first inning.
“I think right now, I'm in prime shape,” Marceaux said. “Last start, even though we lost, that's probably the best my stuff as a whole has been all year as far as velocity and movement and commanding the pitches, other than the first inning. I think I'm in top shape right now. I'm definitely ready to go, for sure.”
After Marceaux, LSU will likely choose between senior right-hander Ma’Khail Hilliard and fourth-year junior AJ Labas. They had a completely different final month of the regular season.
Paul Mainieri spent days fretting about whether his last LSU team would get a bid into the NCAA baseball tournament.
Over their last four starts, Labas allowed 25 earned runs. Hilliard surrendered seven. Neither have pitched in almost two weeks, making rest a non-factor.
“I don't really know that much about the other teams,” Mainieri said. “We haven't seen them play. And I don't know what the best match-ups will be. So I'm not 100% sure what we're going to do with the second game yet.
“I'm so totally focused on Gonzaga right now. I think we're going to be in for a real battle on Friday night.”