When No. 7 LSU welcomes No. 10 University of Louisiana-Lafayette to Alex Box Stadium tonight, the Tigers will be playing to keep two win streaks alive.
LSU (7-0) has gone undefeated through its first two weekends of competition, but another feat continued for almost three years.
The last time the Tigers lost a midweek game came at a 5-2 defeat on Tuesday, April 12, 2011, against Northwestern State in Baton Rouge, totalling 34 straight midweek victories for LSU coach Paul Mainieri’s club.
Traditionally, Mainieri has tossed a young starter in midweek contests, proving the efficiency of the Tigers’ staff over the past few seasons.
Last year, sophomore southpaw Cody Glenn threw 12 innings and surrendered no runs during midweek games. The contests proved to be auditions for him, eventually propelling him into the Sunday slot in the weekend rotation.
In 10 midweek games in 2013, Mainieri used a starter-by-committee, throwing a reliever for one or two innings at a time over each nine-inning affair.
“You have to have pitching depth, because obviously once you get to the weekend during the [Southeastern Conference] schedule, those games become of the utmost importance,” Mainieri said. “If you’re winning those games in the middle of the week, it speaks of the depth of our pitching staff, especially in the last two years.”
He’ll be sending Glenn to the mound tonight – the same starter who pitched seven innings of scoreless baseball in Lafayette during a Tuesday start against the Ragin’ Cajuns last season.
Glenn surrendered only three hits and recorded one strikeout in the Tigers’ 11-2 victory, and Mainieri said he’s expecting round two to be just as exciting as the first.
“They’re going to figure out what he did to them last year, and they’re going to try and make some adjustments, so he’ll have to make some adjustments in return,” Mainieri said. “I’m not sure what the game plan will be yet, but he has to make quality pitches.”
Glenn isn’t the only Tiger who has seen his share of the Ragin’ Cajuns.
Sophomore outfielder Andrew Stevenson went to St. Thomas More High School in Lafayette, and his family consists of its fair share of ULL faithful.
He said the matchup usually draws extra excitement from the Stevenson family, and he’s expecting several members to make the trip to Alex Box.
Senior outfielder Sean McMullen said he also knows several ULL players, and he noted that a ranked team like the Ragin’ Cajuns can jump on any minor mistake the Tigers make.
McMullen said Mainieri reminded the Tigers of their 34-game midweek winning streak.
“It just shows good consistency,” McMullen said. “We really don’t take games off. That’s not how we operate around here. We take every game seriously, and that record right there is what shows it.”
Mainieri said Tuesday’s matchup will be an effective way to prepare his squad for the SEC schedule that kicks off March 14 against Vanderbilt.
“There’s no question ULL will be the best team we will have faced at this point in the season,” Mainieri said. “They’ve got a veteran team with a lot of experience. It should be a packed house with great excitement and energy, and that’s what you want to put your team into [to prepare] for the entire season.”