Baseball, LSU vs. Alcorn, 04.29.2014

LSU junior left-handed pitcher Kyle Bouman (28) pitches the ball to home plate Tuesday, April 29, 2014, during the Tigers' 9-7 victory against Alcorn in Alex Box Stadium.

While Monday’s severe thunderstorm didn’t ravage Alex Box Stadium, it made its presence felt inside the ballpark on Nicholson Drive.

At the very least, the storm put into question whether the LSU baseball team would play its scheduled home game against Alcorn State at 6:30 p.m. tonight.

But LSU coach Paul Mainieri had something else in the works before the storm rolled through and dislodged both the right and left field foul poles from their bases.

“One second, I’m talking to the coach from Alcorn State to see if he wants to play a doubleheader tomorrow, and the next minute, I’m standing out there at the doors by the Champion’s Club, watching a storm like you rarely get to see,” Mainieri said.

“Then I came out here, and I said, ‘Something looks different about the field.’ Then I said, ‘Where did our foul poles go?’”

STORM HITS MULTIPLE PARTS OF STADIUM

The stiff wind gusts didn’t just knock down the foul poles, but also undid the black screen above center field wall, tore the tarp that lies over the infield, bent the fencing around the Diamond Deck in right field and blew off the advertisements above both outfield bleachers.

While Mainieri’s intention to play a doubleheader was to make up the third game of the Georgia series, which was scheduled on April 19, he immediately scrapped the plan after assessing the damage.

“I had to defer to our administration as to whether or not we’d even be allowed to play,” Mainieri said. “Anyway, the decision was just made that they’re going to have to really hustle and do some cleanup work. The idea of playing two games tomorrow, we had to trash that idea.”

With the extra game, Mainieri would have given junior pitcher Hunter Devall a start before the regular season ended, but he said he doesn’t believe it will be possible with travel restrictions and final exams approaching.

Although the adjustments to the stadium shouldn’t have an effect on the game tonight, players were just as surprised by the storm’s damage as Manieri was.

“I knew there was going to be some trouble around, but I didn’t know the foul poles would go missing,” said second baseman Jared Foster.

With a threat of a tornado in the area, senior pitcher Kyle Bouman, who will start tonight, said Monday’s events reminded him of weather he experienced in his hometown of Ferguson, Missouri, where he’s seen at least two tornadoes in the last decade.

“That was crazy, getting those alerts” Bouman said. “I felt like I was back home, seeing the tornado warnings. I thought it was a joke at first, but I took a step outside. Hopefully, everyone is safe. Seeing a lot of the damage, it’s not a good sign, but I haven’t heard any too big of damage.”

LATZ HOPEFUL TO RETURN TO MOUND

Freshman pitcher Jake Latz was a key piece to the baseball program’s No. 1 recruiting class in 2014, with a chance to be a starter in 2015.

Now, he’s just trying to fit into any role the Tigers need in their chase for a national championship.

The lefty has missed the entire year due to a stress reaction in his throwing elbow, but things are finally starting to turn in the rookies’ favor. In fact, after a bullpen tomorrow, Mainieri is hopeful Latz could see action by the May 12 midweek game against the University of New Orleans.

“The last 10 days to two weeks have been really positive for Jake,” Mainieri said. “A couple of weeks ago, I wouldn’t have given a 10 percent chance that we’d see him this year. But the last two weeks, it’s been improving. His arm feels great. His throwing motion is stronger. His arm action is getting better.”

While Latz hasn’t played this season, he’s optimistic he could possibly fill a bullpen role down the stretch.

“I haven’t pitched in a while,” Latz said. “It was an injury that was tough to figure out at first. Coming back, you just feel a little discomfort here and there, and you don’t know if it’s soreness or pain. So, it has been making sure you’re doing the right things. I finally got to that point now, and I’m taking big strides right now.”

You can reach James Bewers on Twitter @JamesBewers_TDR.

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