BATON ROUGE – LSU pitcher Jared Poche’s slump continued over the weekend as he allowed four hits in seven innings after giving up three hits in seven innings the week before against Baylor.
Those two games came after Poche allowed one hit through eight innings, which followed a no-hitter in his season opener. He just keeps getting worse and worse.
Poche (4-0, 0.00 ERA) actually has given up more hits than his previous start in his last three starts this season, but Coach Paul Mainieri will take it. Poche, a senior from Lutcher, has thrown 29 consecutive scoreless innings this season, and with 16 more shutout innings in a row he will break LSU Hall of Fame pitcher Ben McDonald’s school record 44 straight scoreless innings mark set in 1989. On Monday, Poche was named a national player of the week by the Collegiate Baseball publication for the third time this season after he shut out Wichita State in a 12-5 win Saturday as he struck out three and walked none in a four-hitter through seven innings. And he did not have his best stuff.
“He was laboring through the early part of the game,” Mainieri said. “He got stronger and threw better in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings. Those were his best innings of the game.”
Poche has allowed a batting average of .086 on the season and is eight wins away from becoming LSU’s all-time victory leader. He is 31-9. Scott Schultz was 38-12 from 1992-95.
“I’m so proud of Jared,” Mainieri said. “He’s such a fierce competitor, and it couldn’t happen to a better kid.”
As long as Poche’s scoreless string continues, some stringy growth under his nose referred to as a mustache will remain. After throwing the no-hitter in his first outing of the season against Army, he decided not to shave his mustache for good luck. After allowing a hit but no runs in his second game against Maryland, he decided to keep the mustache alive until he allowed a run.
“It’s a superstitious thing. The mustache is not getting anybody out,” Poche said Saturday after the shutout of Wichita State. “It’s definitely been a great start, but I’m still trying to improve upon it and trying to get better and better.”
LATEST RANKINGS: The Tigers are No. 6 in Baseball America and No. 7 in the USA Today, D1Baseball and National College Baseball Writers Association polls.
NCAA RPI: No. 8.
NEXT UP: LSU hosts Louisiana College (13-4, 4-2 American Southwest Conference) at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. Mainieri scheduled LC to make up for the scheduled game against San Diego on March 7 that was cancelled by rain. … On Wednesday, LSU hosts the University of New Orleans (9-7, 0-3 Southland Conference) at 6:30 p.m.
THIS WEEKEND: The Tigers host Georgia (7-9) in a three-game series to open Southeastern Conference play at 7 p.m. Friday, 6:30 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday.
BY THE NUMBERS: LSU second baseman Cole Freeman leads the SEC in hitting at .482 (27-for-56) and is on a 10-game hitting streak. He was 6-for-11 for .545 against Wichita State. … Greg Deichmann hit two home runs over the weekend with six RBIs and leads the SEC with seven homers and with 23 RBIs.
STAT OF THE WEEK: LSU starting pitchers Alex Lange, Jared Poche and Eric Walker allowed no earned runs and nine hits through 21 innings in the sweep of Wichita State over the weekend with 15 strikeouts and two walks.
SEASON STATS: Record: 12-4. Team Batting Average: .329, led by Cole Freeman, .482 (27-for-56). Opponent Batting Average: .206. Team ERA: 3.01, led by Jared Poche, 0.00. Home Runs: 15, led by Greg Deichmann, 7. RBIs: 109, led by Greg Deichmann, 23. Stolen Bases: 20, led by Antoine Duplantis, 7.
BEAU’S BEIGNETS: Freshman Zach Watson of West Ouachita High in Ruston started the last two games of the Wichita State series in center field and went 4-for-7 with four RBIs. He was 3-for-4 with a three-run home run on Saturday in the Tigers’ 12-5 win. Antoine Duplantis, who moved from center to left field for the series in an experiment by Mainieri, went 7-for-13 with six RBIs. Sophomore Brennan Breaux started the series in center field and went 0-for-3. Beau Jordan, who had been playing left field, had one at-bat on the weekend and signeld with an RBI in the 12-5 win Saturday.
SEASON SO FAR: W Army, 9-0; W Army, 6-0; W Air Force, 10-3; L at UNO, 11-8; W Hofstra, 8-1; W Maryland, 6-1; W Maryland, 14-0; W Maryland, 9-5; W Nicholls State, 3-2; L TCU, 9-6; W Baylor, 4-0; L Texas Tech, 5-4; L at McNeese State, 5-4; W Wichita State, 6-1; W Wichita State, 12-5; W Wichita State, 9-2.
RADIO NETWORK: Alexandria – KSYL-AM 970. Baton Rouge - WDGL-FM 98.1. Bogalusa – WBOX-FM 92.9. Ferriday – KFNV-FM 107.1. Jena – KJNA-FM 102.7. Lafayette – KLWB-FM 103.7. Lake Charles – KXZZ-AM 1580. Leesville – KJAE-FM 93.5. Morgan City – KBZE-FM 93.5 and KFRA-AM 1390. New Orleans – WWL-AM 870. Opelousas – KLWB-FM 103.7. Ruston – KRUS-AM 1490. Shreveport – KWKH-AM 1130. Tylertown, Miss. – WFCG-FM 107.3. Ville Platte – KVPI-AM 1050.
STARTING PITCHERS: TUESDAY - Freshman right-hander Zack Hess (1-0, 4.05 ERA, 13 and one-third innings, 11 hits, 6 runs, 6 earned runs, 8 walks, 15 strikeouts, .224 opponent batting average), LSU, vs. Louisiana College, TBA, 6:30 p.m.
WEDNESDAY – LSU vs. UNO, TBA, 6:30 p.m.
FRIDAY – Junior right-hander Alex Lange (3-1, 3.05 ERA, 20 and two-thirds innings, 17 hits, 7 runs, 7 earned runs, 5 walks, 29 strikeouts, .224 opponent batting average), LSU, vs. Georgia, TBA, 7 p.m.
SATURDAY – Senior left-hander Jared Poche (4-0, 0.00 ERA, 29 innings, 8 hits, 0 runs, 0 earned runs, 2 walks, 18 strikeouts, .086 opponent batting average), LSU, vs. Georgia, TBA, 6:30 p.m.
SUNDAY – Freshman right-hander Eric Walker (2-0, 2.14 ERA, 21 innings, 18 hits, 6 runs, 5 earned runs, 5 walks, 22 strikeouts, .228 opponent batting average), LSU, vs. Georgia, TBA, 1 p.m.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “It looks like I’ve got to put up with that stupid mustache for another week.”
---LSU coach Paul Mainieri on pitcher Jared Poche refusing to shave his mustache until he allows a run this season.
Glenn Guilbeau covers LSU sports for the USA Today Network of Louisiana. Follow him on Twitter at @LSUBeatTweet. Coverage of LSU and commentary by Guilbeau supported by Hebert’s Town & Country Automobile Dealer in Shreveport located at 1155 East Bert Kouns Loop. Research your next Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep or Ram at http://hebertstandc.com/.)