LSU’s series opener at Florida postponed; doubleheader Saturday

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The LSU baseball team will have to wait another few hours before trying to end its hitting slump.

The Tigers’ game against Florida on Friday night was canceled because of rain, and the teams will try to squeeze in a doubleheader starting at noon CDT Saturday, despite another gloomy forecast.

The Tigers (20-5-1, 3-2-1 Southeastern Conference) plan to start ace Aaron Nola (5-0, 0.22 ERA) in Saturday’s first game against the Gators (16-9, 3-3). Coach Paul Mainieri had scratched Nola for Friday’s game because of the wet conditions.

Freshman Jared Poché (5-1, 1.91) is expected to start the second game Saturday — if both are played. The SEC has a rule in place forcing teams to schedule a doubleheader as soon as possible if the first game of a series is canceled.

There is an 80 percent chance of rain during the day Saturday, with the chances diminishing the later it gets. Severe thunderstorms are in the forecast.

“Let’s hope the weather clears,” coach Paul Mainieri said before loading onto the bus with the rest of the team Friday. “I know the weather is iffy for tomorrow. You could probably play the first game as late as 3 or 4 and still get the second game in.”

A drizzling rain persisted at McKethan Stadium in the hour proceeding the scheduled first pitch time of 6:30 p.m. The teams didn’t take infield as the tarp covered Perry Field.

The game was canceled 30 minutes before it was set to begin. About an hour later, sheets of rains fell on the field, another washout in a wacky few weeks.

LSU is mired in one of its worst hitting slumps in Mainieri’s eight seasons, and the team’s first two SEC series in the past two weekends have been unusual.

The Tigers played Vanderbilt in a doubleheader Saturday because of a rainy forecast Sunday, and last week’s series against Georgia ended with a 2-2 tie because of curfew. Georgia had to catch a flight in New Orleans.

“You’d like to play a traditional Friday-Saturday-Sunday and let things go as planned,” Mainieri said. “One thing I’ve learned about this sport in all the years I’ve coached is you can’t do anything about the weather. It is what it is.”

If weather prevents a Saturday doubleheader from being completed, the teams could play two Sunday, but it’s tricky.

LSU has a curfew 4 p.m. CDT Sunday as it must catch a charter flight.

Game 3 is set for noon. Mainieri said Florida administrators must approve an earlier start time Sunday. It’s unclear whether that will happen.

Neither team has announced a starter for Game 3.

Mainieri and his staff had made the decision not to start Nola on Friday night, opting instead to treat it like a midweek game, using multiple relief pitchers.

Kyle Bouman, recovering from a sprained ankle he suffered last week at practice, was seen doing some agility workouts on the field with pitching coach Alan Dunn before the rain began.

Dunn told Mainieri that Bouman’s workout went “a little bit better than he even anticipated.”

The coach said Bouman is doubtful to start a game this weekend but could pitch in relief and then start in the mid-week. LSU hosts McNeese State on Wednesday.