LSU Tigers to begin busy baseball week

Advocate staff photo by ADAM LAU --  LSU's Brent Bonvillain hands the ball to teammate Will LaMarche during a pitching change in the top of the eighth inning against Brown at LSU's Alex Box Stadium on Friday, March 1, 2013. Show caption
Advocate staff photo by ADAM LAU -- LSU's Brent Bonvillain hands the ball to teammate Will LaMarche during a pitching change in the top of the eighth inning against Brown at LSU's Alex Box Stadium on Friday, March 1, 2013.

LSU’s baseball team begins its final full week of pre-Southeastern Conference play when it faces Stephen F. Austin at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Alex Box Stadium.

A busy week continues with a game against Sacred Heart on Wednesday as the Tigers play their final six preconference games in nine days beginning Tuesday.

Coach Paul Mainieri said he mentioned the upcoming schedule to his team after its 2-0 victory against Nicholls State on Sunday.

“It doesn’t affect how we play or how we go about our business,” Mainieri said. “Every game is important to us for our team’s development, but it’s also important for our résumé.

“At the end of the year, when the NCAA selection committee looks at the results of your games, they want to see how you did in your nonconference games in particular.”

LSU is 10-1 and has won its past five games. After the next two days — one of only two sets of back-to-back midweek games this season — the Tigers play Washington in a three-game weekend series and host Nicholls State again next Tuesday before heading to Starkville, Miss., for their first SEC series March 15-17.

“I feel our team is ready for conference play,” Mainieri said. “We must to continue to improve, certainly, but I like the way we’ve played up to this point. This is a very important week for us. The Stephen F. Austin game begins a very busy week for us against some very capable teams.”

These games will help Mainieri finalize roles before beginning conference play. Senior left-hander Brent Bonvillain’s start against SFA is the final “audition” in Bonvillain’s competition with sophomore left-hander Cody Glenn for the Sunday starter’s role.

Though Glenn has not allowed an earned run in 19 innings over three starts, Mainieri said he and pitching coach Alan Dunn will evaluate Bonvillain’s performance Tuesday before announcing their Sunday starter.

Bonvillain has allowed two earned runs in 8.2 innings over two starts. In his lone relief appearance Friday, he faced two batters and allowed a single, a hit batsmen and a run without recording an out.

He inherits a string of 27 consecutive scoreless innings thrown by LSU starting pitchers. The streak began when Glenn threw seven scoreless innings at Louisiana-Lafayette last Tuesday. Aaron Nola added seven innings against Brown on Friday, Ryan Eades tacked on six against Brown on Saturday, and Glenn had seven more against Nicholls State on Sunday.

Over the next two nights, Mainieri will likely look at several relief pitchers. Right-hander Nick Rumbelow, who has made two brief relief appearances since returning from a strained muscle in his side, could get the start Wednesday and have his most extensive outing to date.

LSU and SFA have not met since 1992, when the Tigers swept a three-game series at Alex Box Stadium. LSU leads the all-time series 9-0.