Dellenger: Growing up in a house of boys set stage for success for Poché

Jared Poché describes his childhood home using one word.

“Masculine,” he said.

Expound, he’s asked.

“Things like, we don’t have to keep the toilet seat down.”

The Poché house included five guys — Corey, Dylan, Jared, Cameron and dad Jerry — and one woman, mom Tessa.

It’s the kind of home that produces those hard-nosed, grizzled ballplayers — the ones who aren’t afraid to dirty up a pant leg or scrape up an elbow.

Jared Poché is a good ole Louisiana boy, a kid who speaks with a country, Cajun twang, one raised on the bayou in the tiny town of Lutcher.

He’s a player LSU fans will love to love — if, of course, he performs.

A true freshman, Poché is part of LSU’s early season four-man starting pitching rotation. For now, he’s the Sunday starter.

Poché was born in 1994. Nineteen ninety-four. He recently turned 19.

He’s the young’n of an otherwise veteran starting group: ace Aaron Nola, junior-college transfer Kyle Bouman and current midweek guy Cody Glenn.

Nola is a returning All-American beginning his third year with LSU. Glenn went 7-3 as a starter last season, and Bouman pitched as a true freshman at Wichita State before a standout season in 2013 at a Missouri junior college.

Yes, Poché is the baby.

Not that it really matters, said his high school coach, Davey Clement.

“He’s just so down to earth,” Clement said. “That’s what I got out of him for four years. He’s like an all-star in a regular man’s body.”

Poché calls himself an “attacker” of the zone. He has three pitches, and all of them can be hurled for strikes: fastball, changeup and curveball.

The curve might be his best. The fastball, at 88-91 miles per hour, might need a little more speed. It’s something that should come with age.

But who really cares about his pitches?

The real question: How’s a 19-year-old kid throwing to high-schoolers a few months ago going to handle pitching for a top-10 team in the nation’s stiffest league?

First off, pitching coach Alan Dunn said, Poché had a better high school career than most.

Here are his accolades last season: Class 4A Player of the Year, MVP of the state championship game, Louisiana Mr. Baseball, Louisiana Gatorade Player of the Year.

Here are his stats in 2013: 12-0 record, 0.61 ERA, 143 strikeouts in 80 innings pitched.

Also, Poché led Lutcher to a state title last year and finished with a 33-3 career record at the school.

“Winning is winning. There’s no replacing having success. He’s done that,” Dunn said. “He came here in the fall, showed me a guy that had good mound presence, wasn’t afraid to throw the ball in the strike zone. Those are things that jump out at you when you’re trying to decide certain guys’ roles.”

Poché already has felt the difference between high school and college hitters. All-American shortstop Alex Bregman made that introduction early.

In his first time facing Bregman in the fall, Poché had the standout in a 0-2 or 1-2 hole, Clement said.

A few pitches later, Bregman smacked a grounder between third and short.

Poché hasn’t forgotten about the at-bat.

“He was upset that he couldn’t finish him when he got ahead of him,” Clement said.

It’s that competitive edge that has Poché in a position to win a weekend starting job in his first season at LSU.

Sure, his pitches are great, but his mentality is better.

After all, what would you expect from a guy who grew up around guys?

“He competed with his brothers his whole life. And even though he’s younger, he hung with them,” Clement said.

He was the third of the four boys. Poché’s oldest brother, Corey, played baseball at Nicholls State, and Dylan was a baseball player and swimmer. Younger brother Cameron is a high school freshman who plays baseball and soccer.

Dad is a doctor and Mom’s a homemaker. The family — at least the guys — used to pile in the family car and take the 90-minute drive to Baton Rouge to see LSU play baseball.

Little Jared would sit in the stands with dad and point onto the field.

“I hope one day I could be playing or pitching out there,” he’d say.

Well, he is.