All 14 teams bunched up in SEC standings

On Monday morning, Paul Mainieri glanced at the Southeastern Conference baseball standings and noticed something.

The league leader is Alabama with an 8-4 conference record.

The last-place team is Missouri with a 4-8 conference record.

“Four games separate 14 teams,” Mainieri said. “We’re four weeks in. This is not like after one or two weeks. We’re four weeks into the (Southeastern Conference) season.”

This year’s SEC baseball season is shaping up to be a multiteam pileup — far from the two-horse race of 2013, when LSU and Vanderbilt dominated.

LSU (24-8-1, 6-5-1) moved itself back into the thick of the title race with a sweep of Mississippi State last weekend. With four of 10 regular-season series complete, the Tigers are sitting in fifth place overall. They’re just two games behind first place — and two games out of last.

“The teams are so evenly matched,” Mainieri said. “The personnel from team to team is almost nondiscernible. It really comes down to who plays better on a given day.”

That’s been Alabama, for the most part, but no SEC team has won all four of its series this season. No team, aside from Bama, has won its past two series.

Up next for LSU is a team that gave the Tide their only league series loss: Arkansas (20-12, 6-6).

The Razorbacks also most recently beat South Carolina, the previous No. 1 team in the country in some polls. South Carolina scored just three runs in the three-game series.

“There’s just never any let-up in this league,” Mainieri said. “You know every weekend you’re going to run up against great pitching.”

Bouman could go Sunday

If Kyle Bouman’s ankle feels OK leading up to Sunday, Bouman will likely start Sunday against Arkansas, Mainieri said, but that determination won’t be made until the weekend.

Bouman’s injured ankle was sore Monday after pitching in a win over Mississippi State on Sunday. He went 3.1 innings, a “courageous” outing, Mainieri called it.

Mainieri said the ankle soreness is no concern.

“It’s not like it’s back to Square 1,” Mainieri said.

Bouman suffered a badly sprained ankle nearly a month ago at practice. He made his first Sunday in three weeks.

Faucheux gets nod Wednesday

Henri Faucheux, a junior-college transfer from LaPlace, will start Wednesday against Lamar (18-14).

Faucheux has allowed just six hits in 14 innings of relief. He had issues with walks in his last appearance against Florida. He did not pitch last weekend.

“He’s still going to be a very vital player for us, a very vital pitcher,” Mainieri said. “I wouldn’t expect him to go a large distance. If he’s pitching well enough, I think we’d be happy to get three innings out of him.”

Nola SEC POW

Ace pitcher Aaron Nola was named the SEC Pitcher of the Week with two others.

Nola threw a eight shutout innings of two-hit ball in Friday night’s win over Mississippi State, lowering his ERA to 0.47. Nola could be just the second LSU pitcher to finish the season with an ERA lower than 1.00.

Rick Farizo had an ERA of 0.21 over 41.2 innings in 1970.

Mainieri said of Nola on Monday: “He could knock a gnat off of a bull from 60 feet.”

Arkansas pitchers Chris Oliver and Jalen Beeks were also named SEC Pitchers of the Week for their performance in a series win at South Carolina.

Mainieri luncheon Tuesday

Mainieri will host a luncheon open to the public at noon Tuesday at the L’Auberge Resort.

The luncheon will be held at the Bon Temps Buffet located on the main floor at L’Auberge. Mainieri will discuss the Tigers’ 2014 season and look ahead to the weekend series versus Arkansas in Alex Box Stadium.

The luncheon will include a question-and-answer session with the audience.

Lagniappe

After going 4-0 last week, LSU moved up in all five of the major baseball polls. The Tigers are ranked No. 8, 8, 11, 15 and 16. … Reliever Alden Cartwright, a freshman from Runnels, has returned to 100 percent from a shoulder strain that knocked him out for a couple of weeks, Mainieri said. He’s made two brief appearances over the past week.