JaCoby Jones still questionable for College World Series opener

Jones believes he’s ready to play Sunday; Mainieri not so sure

JaCoby Jones insists he could have played Saturday if necessary.

Paul Mainieri isn’t entirely sure his second baseman can play Sunday.

Even at what is likely to be the end of his college career on college baseball’s biggest stage, it just wouldn’t be JaCoby Jones if there wasn’t some sort of drama.

Jones missed LSU’s designated pre-College World Series practice time at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha on Friday with some sort of virus, though he composed himself long enough to take part in the team photograph.

Saturday, he practiced with the Tigers at Bellevue East High School but was expected to be limited, Mainieri said.

“I feel good now,” Jones said before practice. “I should be ready to go.”

Jones said his ailment was similar to the one that sidelined him for the Friday night series opener at Alabama. He was pulled in the Sunday game there, didn’t start the following game against Tulane and sat out the Southeastern Conference tournament with a wrist injury.

“He had a fever, a throat issue and was weak,” Mainieri said. “We’re trying to give him as much rest as possible.

“I wouldn’t say it’s 100 percent he’ll play (Sunday against UCLA), but it’s a good sign he was able to come out and practice.”

Jones wielded a white-hot bat in LSU’s two super regional wins over Oklahoma, going 5-for-7 with a home run, triple, double and two RBIs.

Mainieri on Bertman list

Mainieri was named Saturday as one of five finalists for the inaugural Skip Bertman Award, which will be given annually to the nation’s top coach by the National College Baseball Hall of Fame.

The other finalists are Indiana’s Tracy Smith, Linfield College’s Scott Brosius, Gloucester County College’s Mike Dickson and Faulkner’s Patrick McCarthy.

The winner will be named June 29.

“I was really honored when I heard about that,” Mainieri said. “It’s a great honor for (Bertman).”

Bertman coached LSU from 1984-2001, leading the Tigers to a 5-0 record in CWS championship games.

He then served as athletic director from 2001-08.

“I am thrilled and humbled to have an award with my name on it, to be given by the National College Baseball Hall of Fame,” Bertman said in a statement. “It’s indeed a proud and extraordinarily happy moment for me and all the players I coached.”

Bregman honored again

LSU freshman Alex Bregman was named one of three finalists for the Brooks Wallace Award, which is given annually to the nation’s best shortstop by the National College Baseball Hall of Fame.

Also on the list are Trea Turner of North Carolina State, which plays North Carolina in the LSU-UCLA bracket Sunday, and Hunter Dozier of Stephen F. Austin.

The winner will be named June 29.

Bregman comes into the CWS with 104 hits, tied for second with Mississippi State’s Adam Frazier (who had two hits Saturday) and Vanderbilt’s Tony Kemp and one back of Chesny Young of Mercer.

Bregman was named national freshman player of the year by Collegiate Baseball and is a semifinalist for the Golden Spikes Award and the Dick Howser Trophy.

Nola up for pitching award

LSU sophomore Aaron Nola is one of three finalists for the National College Baseball Hall of Fame’s pitcher of the year award, the organization announced Saturday.

The other two finalists are UCLA closer David Berg and Oklahoma pitcher Jonathan Gray, whom Nola beat 2-0 in the Baton Rouge Super Regional.

Nola, who prepped at Catholic High, is 12-0 with a 1.68 ERA. Berg is 7-0 with a 0.88 ERA and 21 saves, while Gray was 10-3 with a 1.64 ERA.

This award will also be announced June 29.

Lagniappe

LSU leads UCLA 3-1 all-time. The Tigers beat UCLA 7-1 in the Superdome in 1988, then swept two from the Bruins in the 2000 Baton Rouge Super Regional, 8-2 and 14-8. UCLA beat LSU 6-2 in the 2010 Los Angeles Regional at UCLA. ... Sunday’s game will mark LSU’s 16th CWS appearance, tying Arizona, Cal State Fullerton and Stanford for seventh all-time. ... UCLA catcher Shane Zeile is the nephew of former major leaguer Todd Zeile, who played for the Bruins from 1984-86.