LSU, Tulane turn to Parkview pitchers

LSU and Tulane both plan to hand the baseball to a former Parkview Baptist pitcher for their game Tuesday night at Turchin Stadium in New
Orleans.

Freshman right-hander Russell Reynolds will make his third consecutive midweek start for the Tigers (22-2), and junior left-hander Brady Wilson is expected to start for the Green Wave (14-12).

Reynolds (0-0, 0.90 ERA) made his first start two weeks ago and threw two scoreless innings in a 9-3 victory against Nicholls State. On Wednesday he pitched five scoreless innings in a 2-1, 13-inning victory against Northwestern State. This will be his first college start away from Alex Box Stadium.

“Russell Reynolds, hopefully, will come back and pitch another gem like he did this past week,” LSU coach Paul Mainieri said. “That would be great for our staff as we put the finishing touches on the roles for everybody on our staff.”

Mainieri said he would like to extend Reynolds beyond five innings if Reynolds’ performance justifies it, which would enable him to limit the number of relievers he uses.

So far, Reynolds seems to have a handle on the midweek starter’s job, and the bullpen is coming into focus with Will LaMarche joining Brent Bonvillain and Nick Rumbelow as the primary setup guys for Joey Bourgeois and closer Chris Cotton.

Tulane coach Rick Jones said what he expected to be a “talented and deep” pitching staff has been “decimated a little bit” by injuries to four key pitchers. He plans to use several pitchers after Wilson finishes.

“We’re going to staff it and hope for the best,” Jones said. “Right now is not for the faint of heart if you’re a coach.”

Wilson, who was named the most valuable pitcher each of his two seasons at LSU-Eunice before transferring to Tulane, is 1-1 with a 3.97 ERA and has made just one start among his 10 appearances. He lasted four innings and gave up seven hits and six runs, five earned, in Tulane’s 11-10, 12-inning win over High Point on March 10.

Jones said the Green Wave hasn’t hit well enough (.249 batting average, six home runs) or played defense well enough to make up for the pitching losses on a consistent basis.

Tulane (16-14) is coming off a Conference USA series wins over Memphis last weekend at Turchin. The Green Wave staff could be taxed this week with a C-USA series at Rice beginning Thursday because of
Easter weekend.

“We have a challenging week,” Jones said. “In the 20 years I’ve been here, we’ve played a lot of outstanding LSU teams and this one is certainly one of the top ones.”

The second-ranked Tigers have matched the best 24-game record in school history, accomplished previously 1986, 1989 and 1997. Despite the record start, Mainieri is still tinkering with his lineup. He hasn’t settled on a leadoff hitter or a designated hitter.

Second baseman JaCoby Jones was back in the No. 7 spot in the order Sunday, after one week in the leadoff spot.

Chris Sciambra was back in the leadoff spot but was replaced by Andrew Stevenson after two innings. Sciambra has the patience Mainieri is looking for in a leadoff hitter but hasn’t hit consistently well. Stevenson isn’t a typical leadoff hitter, but when he joins Mark Laird in the outfield, it gives the Tigers their fastest group.

“The biggest thing right now is to figure out our leadoff hitter, especially against left-handed pitchers,” Mainieri said. “It’s the ebb and flow of the season. You keep adjusting until you figure it out. I feel pretty good that we don’t have more to figure out.”

Freshman Chris Chinea was the right-handed DH in each game and went 2 for 7 as the Tigers swept three games from Auburn last weekend.

LSU leads the series with Tulane 175-125-3 and has won the past four meetings and eight of the past 10.

Last season, the Tigers defeated the Green Wave 5-0 at Turchin and 9-5 in Alex Box. The teams will meet again April 24 in The Box.