Right-hander Russell Reynolds and outfielder Jared Foster will get expanded opportunities when the LSU baseball team plays Northwestern State on Wednesday night in Alex Box Stadium.
Reynolds, a freshman from Parkview Baptist, will make his second start and could go well beyond the two innings he threw in his first start if he’s effective. Foster, a sophomore from Lake Charles, will get his second start in right field.
Tigers coach Paul Mainieri said before practice Tuesday that he plans to use fewer pitchers than he has in most midweek games. In a 9-3 victory against Nicholls State last Wednesday, Reynolds threw two scoreless innings, and nine other pitchers followed him.
“I want to see a good quality start,” Mainieri said. “I’d like to see Russell pitch five innings and dominate. How he throws will dictate how far he goes. There are a few guys I want to see.”
Reynolds admitted to being nervous for his first start, but said he thinks the jitters are out of his system.
“It’s pretty big to have that out of the way now,” Reynolds said. “It felt good to go out there and get two innings in and know that I did my job. Got the outs and didn’t give up any runs. It felt good to finally start game after coming out of the bullpen.
“I’m used to the preparation, what to do before the start. I’m pretty excited about the second one. Now that the nerves have gone away I can just go out there and pitch.”
Reynolds also has made three relief appearances, the last coming Sunday when he pitched a scoreless eighth in a 10-2 loss at Mississippi State.
“I can show (the coaches) that I can go four or five innings instead of just one or two innings at a time,” Reynolds said. “The next time, even if I’m coming out of the bullpen, I can throw more than one or two and spread myself out some.”
Left-hander Brent Bonvillain will likely pitch Wednesday as well. Bonvillain made three starts earlier this season, but lost the Sunday starter’s spot to Cody Glenn.
When starter Aaron Nola was knocked out after 5.2 innings at Mississippi State last Friday, Mainieri gave the ball to Bonvillain, who got out of the sixth, threw a scoreless seventh and got the first two outs in the eighth before putting three consecutive batters on base.
LSU erased a 4-1 deficit while Bonvillain was on the mound and Joey Bourgeois got the final out in the eighth to keep the score tied. The Tigers won 6-4 in 10 innings.
“I thought Brent was a very pivotal part of the game,” Mainieri said. “I was very pleased with the way he performed until those last three batters. But overall his performance was a real positive for our team.”
Bonvillain gave up one earned run in each start, going four innings twice and 4.2 once.
“Getting those three starts, I think I proved I can go more than an inning or two, maybe four if need be,” Bonvillain said. “I definitely showed some versatility, and hopefully I can use that coming out of the pen.”
Foster hit his first homer of the season in the eighth inning Sunday against State closer Jonathan Holder, one of the top pitching prospects in the Southeastern Conference. He has just nine at-bats, but has five hits and seven runs.
The final outfield position alongside Raph Rhymes and Mark Laird isn’t settled, and Foster is the only right-handed option. He’ll face Northwestern State left-hander Cody Butler.
“I have to remain consistent at the plate,” said Foster, a former second baseman. “Last year was a transition defensively and I was kind of iffy. But I played the outfield all last season and during the summer so now I’m getting good reads off the ball.”
Chris Sciambra, Andrew Stevenson and Sean McMullen were all ahead of Foster in the outfield when the season began.
“We’ll see how it goes,” Mainieri said. “This might be a lengthy move or it might be a one-game move.”
The move of second baseman JaCoby Jones to the leadoff spot will last for at least one more game. Mainieri moved the slumping Jones to the top of the order last Saturday and he responded with two doubles. He also had two singles Sunday and has four hits in his last five at-bats.
“He had a really good game Saturday and he was one of the few bright spots we had Sunday,” Mainieri said. “Hopefully that jump-started him and he’s going to be a leader for us going forward.”
Mainieri said RH Nick Rumbelow won’t pitch Wednesday, but will have a side session with pitching coach Alan Dunn. … RH Kurt McCune is “pain free” and making progress in his return from two stress fractures of vertebrae in his back. McCune hasn’t thrown off a mound yet, but could be available when the Tigers host Kentucky on April 5-7. … The Demons have two redshirt freshmen from Parkview Baptist — OF Jake Clouatre and C James Coates. Senior OF Spencer Harrell played at Catholic High
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