It was just another three-hit day at the ballpark for LSU shortstop Alex Bregman on Sunday at Alex Box Stadium.
Bregman went 3-for-4, drove in a run and scored a run as LSU completed a three-game sweep with an 8-2 victory against Auburn.
It was the fourth consecutive three-hit game for Bregman, who has a hit in 12 consecutive games. He is batting .509 during the streak and a team-best .422.
“I’m not surprised,” senior first baseman Mason Katz said. “He works so hard he deserves it. He comes out here every day and goes down to the cages and makes sure he’s doing everything (to prepare). I’m excited to see him play not only the rest of this year but even after I’m gone.”
Katz said the veterans on the team were expecting Bregman, a highly touted freshman from Albuquerque, N.M., to have some ups and downs against the team’s own pitching in the fall but were “mesmerized” by Bregman’s consistency.
“We were waiting for our pitching to overtake him, and it never happened,” Katz said. “He sees all pitching exactly the same, whether a guy is throwing 85 or 95 miles an hour. It doesn’t matter.”
Another freshman, outfielder Mark Laird, bounced back after going 1-for-11 in his Southeastern Conference debut at Mississippi State last weekend.
Laird went 6-for-12 against Auburn, including 3-for-4 Sunday.
“I have to let things roll off my back,” Laird said. “If I don’t have a good at-bat one time, it doesn’t have to come with me my next at-bat. I just clean the slate every at-bat.”
Laird is the fastest player on the team, and he’s batting second, one spot ahead of Bregman, which is a combination that enabled Laird to score seven runs over the weekend.
“His confidence doesn’t waver,” coach Paul Mainieri said. “He came back with a vengeance and was a real sparkplug for us.”
Left-hander Cody Glenn also was much improved for his second SEC experience. He lasted a career-best 7.2 innings Sunday, allowing six hits and two runs to improve to 4-1.
At Mississippi State, Glenn gave up six hits, three walks and six runs and lasted just 3.1 innings.
“I felt a sense of urgency to come out here and get the job done early,” Glenn said. “I was able to go deep in the game, which I felt good about.”
Right-hander Will LaMarche followed up an impressive 2.2 scoreless innings against Northwestern State on Wednesday with another good, though shorter, outing.
LaMarche replaced Glenn with runners on first and second and two out in the eighth. He battled Garrett Cooper, who fouled off numerous 3-2 pitches before finally getting hit by a pitch. LaMarche then got Patrick Savage to fly to right.
“I told Will afterward, ‘That’s the demeanor we’ve been waiting for out of you,’” Mainieri said. “He wasn’t backing down. He battled and battled. If he keeps it up, he’s going to be real force for us.”
Mainieri moved second baseman JaCoby Jones back to the seventh spot in the order after batting him leadoff the previous five games. Right fielder Chris Sciambra was back leading off, where he began the season.
Against Auburn starter Will Kendall, who was on a 40-pitch count as he comes back from Tommy John surgery, Mainieri was counting on the patient Sciambra to make Kendall throw a lot of pitches early.
But after two innings, Sciambra was out of the game, Laird moved from center to right and Andrew Stevenson was in center.
Mainieri had settled on the lineup before he realized the 17 mph wind that was gusting to 29 mph, was blowing from left to right and not straight in as he had expected.
Then he didn’t think Sciambra played Cooper’s double off the wall in right very well in the second.
“I felt once we had the (6-1) lead and (Kendall) out of the game, I’d put Stevenson in,” Mainieri said. “It was tough in right field, and that gave us our best speed in the outfield and our best chance defensively at holding the lead we got early in the game.”
Mainieri said he “can’t be more happy about the way we’ve started” after the Tigers improved to 5-1, tied with Alabama, Texas A&M and Vanderbilt for the best record in the SEC.
LSU (22-2) will play five of its next six games away from Alex Box Stadium, starting with a game at Tulane on Tuesday.
The Tigers make their first visit to Missouri next weekend, then after a home game against Alcorn State on April 2 they play Southern Miss the next night in the Pontiff Classic at Zephyr Field in Metairie.
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