LSU took all three games from Maryland, starting the season off with a sweep. And while it's nearly impossible to take too much away from the first series of the season, we certainly saw some encouraging things.
To start, LSU's two aces looked extremely sharp. Both Aaron Nola and Ryan Eades pitched just over six innings and neither allowed a run. Nola struck out nine while allowing just two hits while Eades allowed six hits and struck out six. Both had one walk.
Last season, Chris Scimabra seemed to be getting the hang of things at the plate when he suffered his season ending neck injury. If this weekend is any indication, he's not rusty at all. In fact, he may be much improved. Sciambra went 5 for 8 on the weekend (.625 BA) while walking four times and reaching base nine times in 12 plate appearances (.750 OBP). He also added a stolen base. You can't ask for much more from your leadoff man.
Star freshman Alex Bregman also had a nice weekend, collecting five hits in 11 at-bats (.455). He finished the weekend with a great day on Sunday, going 3 for 3 at the plate and walking twice to reach base in all five appearances. He also stole a pair of bases on the weekend.
LSU's defense was outstanding all weekend. The only error on the weekend came on a pop up that Jacoby Jones lost in the sun. Sciambra and Mark Laird both tracked down some balls in the outfield that may have found the grass a year ago. Laird especially had some outstanding plays in right field. Christian Ibarra was steady at third and made a ridiculous diving catch on Sunday to rob Maryland of a base hit.
Jacoby Jones looked very patient at the plate, which is a nice change from a year ago. He was 3 for 7 on the weekend, including a home run Sunday. Maybe more impressive was that he walked four times. That may not seem like a huge deal but considering he walked just 15 times all of last season, it's a very encouraging sign.
LSU decided to go with the lefty / righty platoon at designated hitter this weekend with Alex Edward and Tyler Moore. Between the two of them, that spot managed to go a respectable 3 for 9 on the weekend. However, while pinch hitting for Moore late in Game two, Alex Edward came through with a huge RBI single that broke a 0-0 tie in the seventh inning. Then on Sunday, Moore pinch hit for Edwards and came through with a bases loaded single that plated two.
As a whole, LSU looked sharp on the mound. When you give up just four runs all weekend, you're doing something right. Nobody really struggled or got roughed up, and a lot of newcomers got their feet wet. And that was without the services of Kurt McCune or Nick Rumbelow.
LSU failed to capitalize on the great performances of Nola and Eades. For the first 15 innings of the weekend, the Tigers managed to push just one run across. But in the final 12 innings, they hammered out 19 runs. So perhaps they just needed to get their feet under them a bit. A big reason for the struggles is that Raph Rhymes and Mason Katz combined to go just 4 for 21 on the weekend. Combine that with Mark Laird going 2 for 12, and you've got pretty sub par production from your 2-3-4 hitters. Obviously, there's nothing to worry about with Rhymes and Katz...or Laird for that matter. But if you're looking for a reason why LSU's offense struggled for the first 15 innings, there it is.
LSU will next play Tuesday at The Box against Lamar at 6:00 PM. If Kurt McCune is ready to go, we could see him start. If not, I'd guess Cody Glenn will get the nod. Maineri has said that he really likes using a lot of pitchers for the mid-week games, but with another game on Thursday, he may not do that this week.