Surprise: Kramer Robertson can pitch in ‘desperate times’

Kramer Robertson was prepared to show off that big arm — not at second base, but on the mound.

LSU’s electric freshman trotted to the bullpen during the ninth inning of the comeback win over Alcorn State on Tuesday night. Players in the dugout — and most everyone else at Alex Box Stadium — figured he was warming to enter the game at second base.

Oh no.

“I was about to go in to pitch,” Robertson said Wednesday surrounded by a group of reporters. “Y’all didn’t know I can pitch?”

Robertson’s pitching experience is limited to junior high and summer ball, but coach Paul Mainieri said Wednesday that he contemplated throwing Robertson if things got rocky in the ninth inning.

He never had to. Brady Domangue closed out the Tigers’ wild comeback in a 9-7 win over the Braves. There was at least one disappointed player.

“It was a letdown for me, but I was glad we were able to get those outs,” Robertson said. “I’m always up if he needs me — if we ever run out of pitching.”

Mainieri had limited himself to using just five pitchers Tuesday, an attempt to save the bullpen for this weekend’s Southeastern Conference series. The Tigers (34-11-1, 12-8-1 SEC) travel to play Texas A&M (28-18, 10-11).

They’ll do it down one pitcher. Hunter Devall is not making the trip. He’s suffering from a strained shoulder muscle that could keep him out for a week or two.

Does that mean Robertson is a viable option? He was Tuesday.

“Desperate times call for desperate measures,” Mainieri said Wednesday with a laugh. “I was confident Brady could to the job. The only other guy we had left was Cody (Glenn). Brady walked that first batter, I said, ‘Man, what if he can’t find the strike zone? What if they start racking him? I bring in Cody. What if he ... something happens there?’ We’ve got to have some other option.”

That was Robertson, the son of Baylor women’s basketball coach Kim Mulkey.

“I went to Kramer and I said, ‘When’s the last time you pitched?’” Mainieri said. “He said, ‘Last summer.’ I said, ‘That qualifies. Get down to the bullpen.’ ”

Robertson said he has three pitches — changeup, curveball and fastball. His fastball tops in the low 90s, he said.

Robertson will return to a place this weekend where he nearly ended up. Texas A&M was the first school to recruit him, and the Aggies and LSU were his two finalists.

A&M recruited him as a shortstop and a pitcher.

“It was actually a really hard decision,” he said.

‘Not overly concerned’

Though his pitching staff gave up 16 hits and seven runs against Alcorn State, Mainieri isn’t “overly concerned” with his arms.

The Tigers needed a five-run eighth inning to beat the Braves (8-37). Relievers Henri Faucheux and Kyle Bouman allowed six hits each.

“What could have been a pretty disastrous loss turned into a pretty exciting win for us. Nothing goes according to script during the course of the year. Nothing’s perfect along the way,” Mainieri said Wednesday. “(Tuesday), some guys that are down on the depth chart were the ones that were giving up the runs. I’m not overly concerned about it.”

Regulars were ready

Mainieri started six reserves in the win over Alcorn, replacing them with everyday players in the sixth and seventh innings to spark a late rally.

He knew his regulars would be ready after their lively batting practice.

“Instead of them thinking it was a day off, they were really bearing down,” the coach said. “They worked hard in batting practice before the game, even though they knew they weren’t starting.”

He told a few regulars of his plan an inning or two before insterting them.

“Told them make sure they started getting mentally ready and get into the game and loosen up a little bit,” he said.

Weekend plan

LSU plans to its same starting weekend rotation as the last few weeks.

Ace Aaron Nola will throw Friday, and freshman Jared Poché on Saturday. Mainieri is not listing his Sunday starter. He’ll decide on that after Saturday’s game.

Follow Ross Dellenger on Twitter @rossdellenger. For more coverage of LSU baseball, follow our Line Drives blog.