LSU is still trying to find itself in these early days of the 2016 season, and Coach Mainieri has been pretty willing to try every option to find what works best before conference play starts. I suspect a combination of Cole Freeman's performance this past weekend and Kramer Robertson's own flashes of leather the last two weeks have led to a "four game trial run" of a swap at the position. While Robertson has certainly shown great defense the past two weeks, I honestly don't think Freeman was that bad at the position. The ground ball error by Freeman last Saturday that eventually led to Sac St taking the lead came off a really weird hop (that Freeman paid for when it hit him in the groin and caused him to be pulled from the game) and otherwise he had been fine, if unspectacular, at the position. He's no Bregman, but then no one on this team is. Still, it's not a benching, just a swap, and Mainieri is just trying all his options to find the best fit.
Also tonight, Austin Bain and The Bullpen (that new doo-wop group that all the kids are crazy about) will try to recover some of their honor after getting pantsed in Beaumont last week. Bain (0-0, 6.75 ERA, 4.0 IP, 3 BB, 3 SO) said he observed some flaws in his mechanics after watching last weeks tape that he hopes to eliminate going forward.
As for the Colonels(4-5) of the GLORIOUS PEOPLES UNIVERSITY OF HOUMA-THIBODAUX, it's been a rough start to 2016. They demolished Mississippi Valley State in a 4 game opening weekend, then had an awful road trip with a 13-1 midweek loss at Bama, two shutout losses to Miss St., and wasn't even really competitive against Massachusetts-Lowell. In an odd scheduling quirk, tonight is Nicholls St.'s last tune up before hosting Abilene Christian this weekend to start Southland Conference play. The Colonels will be starting Jr. RHP Jake Smith (1-1, 6.23 ERA, 8.2 IP, 7 BB, 12 SO) who has a Saturday start and win under his belt, but was last seen giving up 6 runs in 2.2 IP against UMass-Low. I can't tell if the Colonel's are going to trot out a platoon of guys or if they think Smith can go a long distance. Nicholls currently has a staff ERA of 5.61
At the plate, the big threat is Kyle Reese, the 2015 Southland Conference batting average and slugging champion. He's off to a hot start again, batting an even .500 with 18 hits and 17 RBIs. The rest of the team is batting .291 and no Colonel has hit a home run yet this season. Fans like to think of Nicholls as a local program that gives LSU unexplained fits, but the truth is that LSU has won 24 of the last 26, the losses both coming in seasons where LSU eventually reached Omaha (2009, 2015).
The game is on ESPN3 nationwide but blacked out to be on Cox Sports TV only in the area marked on the map below.