Five pitchers made their debuts for LSU during the Tigers’ 14-3 victory against Maryland on Sunday afternoon at Alex Box Stadium.
With closer Chris Cotton unavailable after pitching the previous two days and Nick Rumbelow (oblique) and Kurt McCune (back spasms) sidelined, coach Paul Mainieri turned to the newcomers for one-inning stints after starter Brent Bonvillain went four innings.
“I’m very proud of all of them,” Mainieri said. “The first time to step out there on the mound in Alex Box Stadium in front of a large crowd (6,462) and an (Atlantic Coast Conference) opponent, I couldn’t be more happy with the way they threw. I thought they all showed remarkable poise.”
Nate Fury got the first call in the fifth after the Tigers had scored three runs in the bottom of the fourth to take a 5-2 lead.
“It’s always a good feeling to get some more runs,” Fury said. “I was anxious to get out there. (Pitching coach Alan Dunn) told me during batting practice to be ready, stay within myself and do what I’ve been doing.”
Fury threw a perfect inning, striking out one, for the win.
“I thought (the fifth) inning was an important inning to really shut them down,” Mainieri said. “I went to Fury because I had a lot of confidence in him, and he mowed them right down.
“I really like Nate Fury. I think he’s a kid that’s going to help us. He’s got a nice breaking ball. Has fastball has just enough giddy-up on it. He keeps the ball down in the zone.”
Mainieri said Will LaMarche, who threw a perfect sixth, overpowered them on a few of those fastballs.”
Russell Reynolds was the only reliever who didn’t throw a scoreless inning, giving up a run on two singles in the seventh.
“Russell got a couple of balls up, and they were able to score a run off of him,” Mainieri said. “He can pitch better than that, but he showed pretty well.”
Hunter Newman threw a perfect eighth, thanks in part, Mainieri said, to his “nice sinker.”
Mainieri said Hunter Devall, the only left-hander in the group, “did a nice job at the end of the game” as he pitched the ninth, giving up just a one-out double.
The bullpen figures to stay busy. Neither Rumbelow nor McCune is expected back when LSU plays Lamar on Tuesday, then next weekend’s series starts a day early on Thursday because BYU doesn’t play on Sundays.
“I told the players before the game, don’t look at today as the third game of a weekend series,” Mainieri said. “Today’s the first game of five games over the next seven days.”
When LSU took command of the game with an eight-run seventh that created the final score that enabled Mainieri to clear his bench as all 16 position players got into the game.
“I’m real happy I was able to get all our position players in,” Mainieri said. “Every position player was able to get his feet wet for the first time. That was a nice thing. We’re going to need a lot of players.
“I always like to get the extra guys in the first weekend because they’re coming off of scrimmages and their timing is good, their confidence is up, and they’re used to playing. So it’s good to get that first action out of the way early.”
Mainieri said he’s “not worried one iota” about his two most experienced hitters — Raph Rhymes and Mason Katz — having sub-par weekends. Rhymes went 3-for-11 and was hit by a pitch, and Katz went 1-for-10 with two walks. Katz said he and Rhymes are content to take walks if teams pitch around them because they’re confident other hitters will take advantage. ... LSU has swept six of its seven season-opening series during Mainieri’s tenure. In 2008, the Tigers won two out of three against Indiana. … Leadoff hitter Chris Sciambra got on base nine times over the weekend, going 5-for-8 and walking four times.
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