Maybe Jrlz Should Just Watch Baseball

Before I make ill informed judgments on the baseball team based on a mere three games against a team that is soon to be Division III, let's all send some good vibes to Jrlz.  Each of us covers the sport we most care about (other than football), and while I get to parse meaning out of the national champion's title defense, Jrlz is left trying to figure out why basketball can't win one measly conference game.  You don't go winless in SEC play without some serious bad luck, and this weekend's Mississippi State game was the kind of stomach punch that may send Jrlz to the top of the Campanile with a high-powered rifle.  So keep him in your prayers. 

Meanwhile, I get to write yet another column about how awesome the baseball team is.  Life isn't fair sometimes.  Here are some ill-informed, way-too-early snap judgments from the first weekend.

Starting pitching?  Awesome.  Do you know how many runs our starters allowed?  None.  Not even an unearned run.  Ranaudo was predictably brilliant, allowing one hit in five innings of work.  Ross had a giant cushion, but was never seriously challenged during his five innings of work, while Bourgeois protected a narrow 1-0 lead for six innings of scoreless work.  16 innings, 18 strikeouts, 2 walks, 8 hits, 0 runs.  That's an impressive weekend, even if it is just Centenary.

Watkins is the answer at leadoff.  One of the questions going into the year was whether Trey Watkins could slide into Jared Mitchell's role as a threat at the top of the order.  In the early goings, he looks like Mitchell with plate discipline.  His first game was exactly what you want to see: 1-2 with a walk and a HBP, 2 steals, and 3 runs.  He almost single-handedly created the game winning run in the eighth, just by forcing errors as he ran around the diamond.  For the record, Mahtook ended up with just as many stolen bases on the weekend (three), but Watkins just seemed unstoppable when he got on.

Hanover is not a cleanup hitter.  I like Hanover and think he's going to be a productive player for us, but he is not a masher at this point in his career.  Speculating wildly, I believe Mainieri put Hanover in the cleanup slot to build his confidence, after getting benched during the CWS.  While that's a great move to show faith in a player, the problem comes when Hanover starts trying to hit like a cleanup hitter and pressing with each at bat.  He'd be better served trying to just hit the ball to the gaps and not worry about hitting home runs.  Matt Gaudet... now there is a guy who can swing for the fences.  Hopefully, I'm just a year late on my prediction that Gaudet can fill Clark's shoes as the team's power hitter.  He just swings the bat with authority.  I love him as the #4 hitter, but I kind of like him as part of the most dangerous back of the order in baseball history.  I mean, Mahtook and Gaudet batting 7/8 in the order is just obscene. 

It's just Centenary.  Nothing personal, but Centenary is not going to make the tournament.  They are not a power.  This is one of the worst teams LSU will play in a weekend series all season.  Beating up on Centenary is not the same as beating Florida.  Heck, it's not the same as beating Mississippi State.  It's nice that the team got to work the kinks out against an overmatched opponent, but this team is not going to be judged on how it plays against a soon-to-be Division III school. 

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