AUBURN, Ala. — A reshuffled LSU batting order will have to wait a day for its debut.
Heavy rain caused LSU and Auburn to postpone their series-opening baseball game Friday, rescheduling it as part of a Saturday doubleheader that will begin at 1 p.m.
Coming off a four-game stretch in which his team scored six runs and limped to a 1-3 record, LSU coach Paul Mainieri will jolt his batting order, moving Antoine Duplantis from No. 3 to the leadoff spot, sliding Greg Deichmann into the third spot and putting Kramer Robertson — the team’s leadoff hitter in all 24 games this season — to the fifth spot.
“We’ve been kind of in a rut here the last four games or so offensively,” Mainieri said Friday. “Maybe just shaking it up a little bit, giving guys a little bit different looks can sometimes get them out of a little bit of a funk. I think Deichmann has been really coming on. His batting practices have been phenomenal, and I’m just thinking maybe get a guy to bat in the first inning that’s capable of getting an extra-base hit just might inspire us a little bit, too.”
Deichmann, who has an eight-game hitting streak, has the team’s only home run in six Southeastern Conference games and three of LSU’s 11 extra-base hits in that span. No other player has more than one. Mainieri will move Deichmann from third base to first base — an expected switch — and put true freshman Chris Reid back at third. Reid was errorless in all three games of LSU’s conference-opening series against Alabama.
Duplantis is the team’s leading hitter at .370 and has the highest on-base percentage (.442) of any regular starter. Robertson’s average has dipped to .274, but he is still second on the team with 16 RBIs.
“He’s been a real clutch hitter for us,” Mainieri said of his shortstop. “Let’s see if we can’t get him up with some runners on base.”
The doubleheader is LSU’s second in three SEC weekends and puts its pitching staff in a precarious, all-too-familiar position. The Tigers (16-8, 2-4) host Vanderbilt for a three-game series beginning Thursday, meaning an LSU starting pitcher will return on four days’ rest.
That task fell to Jared Poché last weekend in College Station, Texas, where he tossed five innings of two-run ball on short rest in a 6-1 loss. Mainieri said he went with Poché over Alex Lange because the Poché’s pitch-to-contact style was more conducive to returning earlier.
Lange, who was scheduled to start Friday’s game, will pitch the first game Saturday, and Poché will go in the second game.
“That’ll be four weekends where he won’t be able to pitch on a Friday night or Thursday night in an electric atmosphere,” Mainieri said of Lange, who he declared the Friday night starter before the Alabama series. “Just disappointed about that. But every game’s important, we’re just going to take it one at a time and do the best we can to win our first game tomorrow.”
Follow Chandler Rome on Twitter, @Chandler_Rome.