Jared Poché has trouble sleeping the night before normal starts on the mound.
So he might be a little groggy Friday.
Poché will start for LSU against Southeastern Louisiana at 2 p.m. Friday in the Baton Rouge regional opener. Poché, a freshman from Lutcher who has served as the Tigers’ No. 2 starter, will pitch against the Lions’ ace, Andro Cutura.
LSU (44-14-1) will save ace Aaron Nola for a possible duel Saturday night against the No. 2 seed Houston.
“I don’t know how much sleep I’ll get tonight,” Poché said Thursday afternoon.
Poché (9-3, 2.21) gets his biggest start of the season, but he’s battled through pressure-packed starts the past two outings. He started the series against Auburn and opened LSU’s SEC tournament run with a win over Vanderbilt.
In those two road starts, Poché allowed eight hits and one earned run in a combined 15 innings.
Poché’s challenge, Nola says, is getting through the first inning.
“Key is to stay calm. You’re going to get amped up, a lot of adrenaline running through your body with all of the fans, with all of the electricity,” Nola said. “Get through that first inning and you’ll be all right.”
Nola’s been there before. As a freshman, he started the Baton Rouge regional opener in 2012, throwing a four-hitter through eight innings in a 4-1 win over Louisiana-Monroe.
Poché and Nola learned the regional rotation earlier this week, but Mainieri forbid them from revealing it to reporters. Mainieri had toyed with the idea of saving Poché for the game against Houston. The Cougars (44-15) have seven left-handed batters in their lineup. Poché is a lefty, while Nola is a righty.
“There are so many variables. I was kind of out-thinking myself,” Mainieri said.
So Poché, it is. He’s not expecting much sleep.
“Going to bed tonight, it’s going to be awesome,” Poché said. “I’ll be pumped up, heart will be beating pretty fast.”
Looking for better start
Alex Bregman didn’t see the end of LSU’s Baton Rouge regional opener last year.
He was at the hospital.
Bregman was involved in a hard collision with Raph Rhymes in shallow left field in the tense 11-7 win over Jackson State last year at Alex Box Stadium — a blemish in a rocky opening game.
With the Tigers behind 2-0 early, Bregman and Rhymes, racing for a fly ball, collided and had to leave the game early.
Rhymes needed three stitches to close a cut on his upper lip. Bregman was taken to the hospital and had X-rays taken of his facial bones, but the results came back negative.
“I learned any team can come in here and win a game,” Bregman said of last year. “Jackson State was playing with us for a long time, long, long time. “I didn’t get to really see it. I was in the hospital. Was listening on the radio. I also learned to communicate on fly balls.”
Nola was one of 17 players named to the Louisville Slugger First Team All-American squad announced Thursday by Collegiate Baseball newspaper.
The honor comes two days after Nola was named SEC Pitcher of the Year.
Kentucky’s A.J. Reed was Collegiate Baseball’s Player of the Year.
Bryant enters the regional having won 16 straight road games, a run that currently leads the nation. … LSU leads the overall series against Southeastern 64-17 and has won 18 of the last 19 meetings. … The Tigers have an 83-19 mark in NCAA regional games.
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