Mainieri wants fresh arms for Ole Miss, will start Cartwright on Tuesday

LSU baseball coach Paul Maineri is in the midst of a balancing act.

He wants to win the Tigers’ game against Southern Miss on Tuesday.

He doesn’t want to exhaust his pitching staff to do it, though.

LSU (27-9-1) meets Southern Miss (21-16) in the annually Wally Pontiff Jr. Classic at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Zephyr Field before playing its first Thursday-Saturday conference series.

The Tigers plan to start Runnels grad Alden Cartwright on Tuesday in a game they’ll piece together with a host of relievers.

LSU plays at Ole Miss (29-9) starting Thursday in a key series between two top-15 squads that are in the top-half of the Southeastern Conference standings. Halfway through the 10-series SEC schedule, LSU is in fourth place, and Ole Miss is in a tie for second.

The Tigers need all of their arms fresh against the Rebels.

“You’ve got to have your guys available on the weekend. We want to go out and play well and win the game,” Mainieri said of the game against Southern Miss. “But at the same time, we also know that starting on Thursday we have a series against Ole Miss of utmost importance, and we need to have every available pitcher ready to go.”

It’s a balancing act, for sure, especially with the recent Game 3 starting pitching situation.

Mainieri is in search of a third starter. LSU is 1-3-1 and has allowed 36 runs in SEC series finales this year.

He does not know who will start Saturday at Ole Miss, but the coach knows he’ll need a lot of options.

“We’ve got to have all hands on deck for the weekend,” Mainieri said.

Cartwright gets first start

Cartwright has a goal for his first LSU start on the mound Tuesday: “Get two innings,” he said.

LSU will continue to treat the midweek game as an opportunity to pitch seven, eight or, even, nine pitchers. That’s especially the case this week with a Thursday-Saturday conference series.

“I’m taking it as I’m the first reliever to go out there,” Cartwright said. “My job is just to get us off to the best start possible and handed over to the next guy.”

Cartwright has emerged as a go-to middle reliever for the Tigers. He missed about two weeks with a shoulder strain but has fully recovered. He’s allowed two earned runs in 14.2 innings and has struck out 13.

Lagniappe

LSU moved up in four of the five major college baseball polls Monday after going 3-1 last week. The Tigers are ranked No. 7, 8, 8, 12 and 14. Ole Miss is ranked in the top 13 in all of the polls and is as high as 10th. … Mainieri might rest a few starting position players Tuesday who are “nicked up,” he said. He would not reveal names or specific injuries, but said they’re “nothing major.”