TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — LSU got just what it needed from left-hander Cody Glenn, even though the Tigers lost to Alabama 4-3 in 10 innings Sunday afternoon at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.
Glenn, who had an earned run average of more than 15 in his first three Southeastern Conference road starts, wasn’t scheduled to start Sunday because of a bruise he suffered when hit just above the right knee by a line drive against Arkansas last Sunday.
He didn’t find out he would start until late Saturday night in the 14th inning of what became a 16-inning, 11-8 victory. That’s when coach Paul Mainieri decided to use Kurt McCune, the scheduled Sunday starter, in relief.
With closer Chris Cotton and other relievers unavailable or limited because of Saturday’s marathon, it was imperative that Glenn last longer than the 3.1 innings that had been his previous longest outing in an SEC road game.
He went a career-long eight innings and yielded just four hits and three runs, two of which were unearned.
“I had all my pitches working from the beginning,” said Glenn, who retired the first 10 batters. “My two-seamer had a lot of life, and I was using that to my advantage.
“I knew if I filled up the zone, they were going to start swing early in the count. So I just wanted to establish myself early and pound the zone and try to get some early outs if I could.”
Alabama coach Mitch Gaspard twice picked his poison, and both times, it worked out.
In key situations both Saturday and Sunday, when the Tigers had a runner on second and one out, Gaspard intentionally walked freshman Alex Bregman to set up a force, even though it meant pitching to senior Raph Rhymes, the reigning SEC Player of the Year.
Both times, Rhymes hit into inning-ending double plays. Rhymes, who had a single, double, triple and three runs batted in during a 5-0 victory Friday night, was 1-for-11 with three strikeouts in the past two games.
“It’s real frustrating because I know what I’m capable of,” Rhymes said. “My performance these last couple of games is not what I’m accustomed to. I’ve got to get better, and I will.”
Rhymes’ .327 batting average would be adequate for most players, but he led the nation with a school-record .431 average last season.
“He had a great night Friday night, and I thought he was ready to get very consistent,” Mainieri said. “Obviously he’s not swinging the bat the way he did last year. He’s struggling to find his stroke, and he’s trying to do too much. He’s pulled more balls than he did all of last year.”
It was a rough few days for LSU second baseman JaCoby Jones, whose weekend began with him staying at the hotel and missing Friday’s game because of a stomach ailment.
Jones returned to the lineup Saturday and went 3-for-7 with a walk, two RBIs and three runs scored while playing all 16 innings. But he also struck out three times and made an error that contributed to Alabama’s three-run ninth-inning that necessitated all those extra innings.
Then on Sunday, Mainieri sent Casey Yocom up to pinch hit for Jones in the fifth inning, one inning after Jones mishandled a routine grounder that helped the Crimson Tide score two runs.
“I didn’t like way he was playing today,” Mainieri said. “And I decided to try somebody who was into the game a little more.”
Yocom handled two putouts and assists without a mistake, but went 0-for-3, stranding four runners.
LSU’s schedule is about to get a lot more home friendly. The series at Alabama completed back-to-back conference road trips as well as a stretch in which the Tigers played 11 of 17 games away from Alex Box Stadium.
Beginning with the game against Tulane on Wednesday night at Alex Box, LSU plays 12 of its final 15 regular season games at home as three of its last four conference series are at home.
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