As they made decisions about their futures around the MLB draft last summer, Cole Henry sent a message to Landon Marceaux.
Though not yet close friends, the two LSU signees had met at a showcase the year before and kept in touch.
“It looks like I'm probably going to go (to LSU),” Henry said, “so if that helps your decision, I would love to have you with me.”
The Cubs considered drafting Henry in the supplemental round, but the club didn’t match his $3.5 million asking price. Marceaux later turned down $1.5 million from the Kansas City Royals.
Cole Henry's father, Jeff, began teaching him how to pitch when he was 9 years old.
Headed to school, the two pitchers decided to live together, moving into a suite-style dorm before summer classes. They groaned about 6 a.m. workouts. They went out to eat. When injuries riddled their freshman seasons, they encouraged each other through rehab.
As LSU hosts Florida State this weekend in an NCAA super regional, Henry and Marceaux will start Games 1 and 2, the first time coach Paul Mainieri has started two freshman pitchers in a super regional during his 13-year tenure.
“Talent is better than having experience,” Mainieri said.
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Two pieces of the No. 1 recruiting class in the country, Henry and Marceaux developed a close friendship after they came to LSU. They went together to summer workouts, preparing for games six months away and trying to find roles on the team. They complained about the constant practices, then stepped back to find perspective.
“Wait a second,” Henry would say. “We're at LSU. This is our dream ever since we committed here. We're working to something bigger than ourselves. We got to take this team to where it needs to go.”
They continued living together during the fall and spring semesters. Marceaux woke up every day at 6 a.m., made coffee and watched television. Henry often slept until noon and ate junk food. Marceaux cooked his meals at home, dedicated to a routine. Henry, not so much.
“He's like an 80-year-old man living in a 19 year old's body,” Henry said. “He never wants to go anywhere.”
Landon Marceaux lost confidence for much of his freshman season and wondered if he belonged at LSU. As the Tigers prepare for Florida State in the super regional this weekend, Marceaux has turned into the pitcher he always wanted to be.
Though they approached life differently, Henry and Marceaux leaned on each other during their freshman seasons. They celebrated success and talked through failure, sometimes late into the night.
Marceaux, in the weekend rotation at the beginning of the season, moved into a midweek role after a disastrous start against Texas. Henry replaced him. Then Marceaux felt a pinch in his shoulder, limiting him to two appearances over the next six weeks.
As Marceaux rehabbed his arm, he asked Henry for advice. Henry had missed almost his entire junior year of high school with a stress fracture in his humerus. Marceaux, who had never hurt his arm, asked Henry how to get through it.
“One day at a time,” Henry told him.
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Henry turned into LSU’s ace by the middle of the season. Marceaux, still injured, out of the rotation and going through the darkest period of his career, greeted Henry at the front of the dugout between innings.
Though Henry missed a month with elbow discomfort — right when Marceaux returned to the weekend rotation — they both pitched in the Southeastern Conference tournament.
They started two of LSU’s games last weekend in the NCAA regional, encouraging one another as they warmed up in the bullpen. They combined to allow one run over 10 innings.
“Things started clicking for them,” catcher Saul Garza said, “and part of it's the way they have each other's backs.”
Saul Garza was this near-mythic figure when he arrived at LSU last fall.
Henry and Marceaux will live together again next year, possibly for the last time because Henry will be a draft-eligible sophomore. They both want to become pitching coaches after their careers.
The past few days, Henry and Marceaux have talked about their freshman seasons. They helped each other with their mechanics and leaned on their friendship. They dealt with injuries, then moved to the front of the rotation.
Henry and Marceaux came to LSU with goals of championships and glory. Now they stand on the cusp of a College World Series with more control of the outcome than anyone else on the team.
When Florida State arrived at Alex Box Stadium Friday afternoon, LSU coach Paul Mainieri embraced the team's left-handed ace.
“We're here, man,” Henry said he told Marceaux this week. “Let's do what we do and take this team where it wants to go.”
The Advocate's LSU beat team predicts the outcome of the Tiger's weekend super regional series against Florida State.
LSU baseball's season is on the brink of ending after dropping the first game of the Baton Rouge super regional Saturday against Florida State.