Antoine Duplantis may have broken the LSU single game hits record with six during LSU’s 22-9 blowout of Georgia on Friday night and Kramer Robertson may have broken the LSU single game doubles record with three, but another Tiger is eyeing his own record this weekend.
When Jared Poche’ takes the mound Saturday night against the Bulldogs, he’ll carry with him an absurd streak of 29 scoreless innings without a run scored. That streak dates back to his first start of the season when he threw a seven-inning no hitter against Army, the first no hitter from a single pitcher for LSU since 1979.
The following week he nearly recorded another no-hitter against Maryland, this time taking the bid into the ninth inning. After 15 innings pitched, Poche’ finally allowed the first hit of the season and was pulled shortly after. He didn’t allow a run in the spacious ballpark Minute Maid Park during the Shriner’s Hospitals For Children College Classic and was strong against Wichita State to extend the total to 29 innings.
You would think that 29 innings without a run to would be music to LSU head baseball coach Paul Mainieri’s ears, but he has conflicted emotions about it. Because everything baseball players do is rooted in superstition, Poche’ has not shaved his upper lip since before his no-hitter against Army. The result is something less than a moustache, but more than just a collection of rogue upper lip hairs.
The first thing Mainieri said after Poche’s seven inning performance against Wichita State where he only allowed four hits and no walks?
“Looks like I gotta put up with that stupid moustache for another week.”
Poche’s 29 innings without a run is a remarkable feat and it’s gone on long enough to put him second all-time for LSU, but he still has a long way to go to break the record. In 1989, Ben McDonald threw 44.2 innings pitched without allowing a run. That year McDonald recorded 202 strikeouts, won the Golden Spikes Award, and was the first overall selection by the Baltimore Orioles in the MLB draft. His number has since been retired by LSU and his name it placed high in Alex Box Stadium.
That’s the standard that Poche’ is chasing.
But what makes Poche’s streak so impressive that he is a different pitcher completely. While McDonalds is a tall, overpowering right hander that possessed an otherworldly curve ball to pair with a strong changeup, Poche’ is a southpaw of average build and a self-described “bulldog” who pitches to contact and relies on the defense behind him more than McDonald ever did.
But even still, the run isn’t priority number one. In true to form fashion, Poche’ values his team over himself.
“It’s been a great run so far,” Poché said. “And I’m just hoping I can keep it going as long as possible, because we’re winning."