Kyle Bouman delivers again as LSU tops Yale

Kyle Bouman — and everyone else — has been kept in the dark.

His most recent outing won’t shed light on anything.

Bouman pitched a two-hitter through seven innings, turning in a gem in LSU’s 3-0 win over Yale on Saturday at Alex Box Stadium and making a loud, final statement for a weekend starting gig.

Coach Paul Mainieri won’t reveal a pecking order in the three-pitcher race for two conference weekend starting spots behind ace Aaron Nola.

Bouman is seen as the dark horse in the competition for the Nos. 2 and 3 weekend starting jobs against freshman Jared Poché and junior Cody Glenn. His stellar play in three starts — he has allowed one run and 12 hits in 18 innings — is making things difficult.

“I’ll leave that up to Coach,” Bouman said when asked about the three-way battle.

“I want all four of them to be pitching great and, if all four are pitching great and I’ve got to pick three,” Mainieri said, “what a wonderful thing because then whoever (doesn’t start on the weekend) moves to the midweek starting job.”

On Saturday, Bouman, a junior-college transfer from St. Louis, never let a runner get to second safely and struck out a season-high four.

Relievers Parker Bugg and Joe Broussard made sure LSU got its fifth shutout in its opening 10 games, the first time that has happened since 1919.

And the batters? They didn’t roll up 16 hits like Friday’s 19-0 win. They used timely shots to score the necessary runs and move LSU, ranked No. 1 in the nation by at least one poll, to 9-1.

The Tigers finished with eight hits and had just six through seven innings against Yale’s highly rated freshman starter, Chasen Ford, who was making his college debut. Mark Laird had three hits, and Alex Bregman and Conner Hale each had two.

Hale, becoming a solid option in the cleanup spot, broke a scoreless tie in the fourth by driving in Bregman for the only run LSU would need. Hale is batting .452.

“I’m feeling really comfortable at the plate right now,” he said. “Not trying to do too much. Trying to drive the ball to the opposite field, like I do best.”

The pitching, though, has been the star.

LSU has allowed 11 earned runs through 10 games. Its team ERA after Saturday is 1.15, and the four starters have struck 46 and walked five.

Mainieri said he still plans to make a decision on the rotation after Poché gets his first road start (and third overall) on Tuesday at Northwestern State. Glenn gets start No. 3 in Sunday’s noon game against Yale (0-2), the third and final game of the weekend series.

Bouman made sure his coach wouldn’t forget his final outing before the big decision.

He retired eight straight batters starting with the third out in the first inning, and he set down seven straight beginning in the fifth, in part because of his defense.

LSU’s outfielders made a handful of stellar plays, and catcher Kade Scivicque caught a runner stealing.

Bouman squeaked into this three-way battle only after a shoulder injury to Hunter Newman knocked him out of the competition.

Now here he is with an impressive three-start stat line: one walk, eight strikeouts, two earned runs and 12 hits.

“Cody’s getting the ball (Sunday), and he’s got a chance to match what Bouman did,” Mainieri said. “And of course Jared’s going to pitch on Tuesday night in a difficult environment. I hope it’s going to be a really difficult decision.”

Bugg struck out two in a scoreless eighth, running his strikeout total to nine in four innings.

Broussard allowed a double and an infield single in the ninth, but the Tigers turned a double play to help him secure the win and his first save.

It made for a familiar site on the scoreboard: a goose egg for the opponent.

As for that weekend rotation decision, it’s still a few days away.

“How about I tell you after Tuesday?” Mainieri said.