If the turn around that LSU needs to make it to the post season is going to happen, you could hardly ask for a more exciting start than the 8-6 win over Southern Miss in the Pontiff Classic on Wednesday. Offensively, the new lineup caused by the loss of Katz seemed to be just what we needed. The first multi-hit game for Watkins in a month, homers by Dozar and Ross, and Spencer Ware OUTRUNNING HIS OWN BUNT are signs that the sparks may be returning at just the right time. Even Matty Ott, who failed to get out of a bases loaded jam in the 8th that gave USM the lead, managed to suppress his own demons for an impressive performance in the 9th. From the Delusional Optimists perspective, we've got every reason to be hopeful heading into the weekend.
Except that we're playing Vandy. A team described recently by the great Ben McDonald as having maybe one of the best pitching staffs in SEC history. The starters are all excellent, led by Friday's Sonny Gray with his 25-73 walk-to-strikeout ratio in 60.1 IP, but the real worry is a bullpen full of lock down relief. The Dores have 5 relievers who've played significant time with ERAs under 2.0 and a nightmare of a closer in Navery Moore (0.44 ERA, 20.2 IP, 7 BB, 21 K, 8 Saves and 0 2B, 3B, or HR). The Dores are also hitting slightly better as a team, but not in the power numbers. Westlake and Esposito are your home run threats, both slugging over .500.
It's going to take near perfect play just to get out of this weekend with some respect, and a series win is a very tall order. But if Wednesday was the start of the turnaround, then beating the Dores will play a huge role in getting back into Hoover contention, getting back into the jumbled West race, and make us worthy of a post-season berth again.
Chance of rain and thunder all weekend, especially Friday. Might be one of those weekends with a Saturday doubleheader.
No TV on Friday, but Saturday is on FSN in a few markets (JP crew likely) and Sunday is a National game on ESPN2. Saturday and Sunday are also available live on ESPN3.com
ARK @ UK
UGA @ Tennessee
Ole Miss @ Auburn (Thursday series, AUB won GM1)
Bama @ UF
S Car @ Miss St.
Not much other than the usual conference games in the national picture. Interesting to note that much of the nation is doing Thur-Fri-Sat series to have Easter off, but the SEC only has the one that was moved for TV.
PITCHING MATCHUPS from LSUSports.net (All Times CST)
Game 1-6pm-No TV
LSU - Fr. RHP Kurt McCune (5-2, 2.40 ERA, 60.0 IP, 16 BB, 47 SO)
VU - Jr. RHP Sonny Gray (7-2, 1.79 ERA, 60.1 IP, 25 BB, 73 SO)
LSU - Fr. RHP Kevin Gausman (2-4, 4.39 ERA, 53.1 IP, 17 BB, 49 SO)
VU - Jr. LHP Grayson Garvin (7-1, 2.44 ERA, 59.0 IP, 11 BB, 53 SO)
LSU - Sr. RHP Ben Alsup (5-3, 3.06 ERA, 50.0 IP, 17 BB, 33 SO)
VU - Sr. RHP Taylor Hill (2-0, 3.17 ERA, 48.1 IP, 11 BB, 48 SO)