LSU baseball still looking for pitching

Tigers hitters also shut down in series loss to Vandy

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Ro Coleman is listed at 5-foot-5.

The Vanderbilt eight-hole hitter stepped up to the plate to start the sixth inning of Saturday’s rubber match against LSU with a batting average of around .160.

On the mound, 6-foot-3 Kurt McCune got ahead 1-2. Three balls later, Coleman took first base on a lead-off walk.

“I would have liked him to lay it right in there, and if the kid gets a hit, he gets a hit,” LSU baseball coach Paul Mainieri said. “He’s batting .160.”

The walk began a disastrous inning for two veteran relievers — McCune and Cody Glenn — and provided an example of the most disturbing trend to emerge from the series loss in Nashville: The Tigers’ arms just couldn’t come close to matching their opponents.

Eight LSU pitchers in Saturday’s doubleheader loss combined for this line: 10 walks, 21 hits — 11 for extra bases — and 14 runs.

Reliever Zac Person had the best line of the group. Every other pitcher allowed at least two hits, and six of the eight issued at least one walk.

It left Mainieri disappointed Saturday night after his team’s 5-3 and 9-3 losses.

“We didn’t pitch well enough to stay with them,” the coach said.

They didn’t hit either.

LSU (17-4, 1-2 Southeastern Conference) had just nine hits Saturday and 14 for the weekend.

Sean McMullen was the only one to record an extra-base hit over the three-game series with the Commodores (18-3, 2-1).

The hitters, though, faced what Mainieri called the best pitching staff in the nation, a group of hurlers who rarely offered anything below 90 mph.

Do the hitters get a pass? Not necessarily.

But the more disappointing area was on the mound. An LSU staff Saturday struggled to find success against a Vanderbilt team that entered the weekend batting below .300.

Six other SEC teams, including LSU, had a better average than Vandy before Friday.

Starting their first conference games, Kyle Bouman and Jared Poché combined to walk seven and allow nine hits in 8.1 innings.

Bouman, a junior-college transfer, faced the minimum in just one inning. Poché, a true freshman from Lutcher, never did and had five walks, one intentional.

“It’s important they don’t hang their heads,” McMullen said Saturday night.

“We believe in them. I know they’re going to bounce back,” he said.

“They each had rough moments, but they also had some good moments,” Mainieri said. “Didn’t pitch well enough to beat a team that’s going to pitch at the caliber, level they did.”

They didn’t get much relief, either.

McCune and Glenn had a disastrous sixth inning in Saturday’s late game, turning a 4-2 deficit into an 8-2 rout.

Glenn lost out to Poché and Bouman for the two weekend starting gigs behind ace Aaron Nola.

In his first appearance as a bullpen guy, he hit his first batter to load the bases and then issued a bases-loaded walk, hurting his chances to squeeze back into the weekend mix.

Who knows? There might be a weekend spot up for grabs soon.

“We have to find somebody who can win a game besides Aaron Nola on the weekend, that’s for sure,” Mainieri said.