OMAHA, Neb. — LSU left-hander Cody Glenn is about as rested as a pitcher can be in the College World Series.
When the sophomore takes the mound to start the Tigers’ game against North Carolina on Tuesday afternoon in TD Ameritrade Park, it will have been 27 days since he last pitched in a game.
“I don’t think I’ve ever had a break this long in the middle of a season,” Glenn said before practice Tuesday.
Glenn threw seven scoreless innings as LSU defeated Alabama 3-1 in the Tigers’ first game in the Southeastern Conference tournament May 22 in Hoover, Ala.
Then he was left off the roster for the Baton Rouge Regional as punishment for violating an unspecified team rule. He was reinstated for the Baton Rouge Super Regional but didn’t get to pitch because he was scheduled to start Game 3, and LSU swept Oklahoma in two.
“It’s been a dream of mine since I was a kid to pitch in the College World Series, and it’s come true now,” he said. “I’m excited to get back on the mound, no doubt about it. I miss it.”
Glenn has thrown two simulated games since being reinstated after the regional and threw a bullpen session after the Tigers arrived in Omaha last week.
“I’m just going to go out there and do the same thing I’ve done the last month or so,” he said, “throw with a lot of confidence.”
Glenn (7-2, 2.41 ERA) quickly established himself as the No. 3 starter early in the season. He was 3-0 with a 0.36 ERA in four starts before the start of SEC play.
He struggled in his first three road starts in the SEC, lasting just 3.1 innings at Mississippi State, 1.2 at Missouri and 3.1 at Arkansas. He was 0-1 in those games, and his ERA was 15.13
Glenn had a breakthrough performance at Alabama on April 21 even though he got a no-decision in a game the Tigers lost 4-3 in 10 innings. He held the Crimson Tide to four hits and one earned run (plus two unearned) in eight innings. Beginning with that game, he has gone 2-1 with a 1.02 ERA in his past five starts.
“I’ve got to have a good start — that’s the key,” Glenn said. “I’m going to catch my groove, and I’m going to try and catch that as soon as I can in the game. If I can get that groove in the first inning, I’ll feel good about my chances of going deep into the game.”
Coach Paul Mainieri said he chose Glenn over junior right-hander Ryan Eades because North Carolina has six left-handed hitters in its lineup.
Trying to regain normalcy
Mainieri said the Tigers “felt a little abnormal” in their 2-1 loss to UCLA on Sunday, which came after an afternoon game between North Carolina and N.C. State.
LSU had not played in eight days, and the teams weren’t able to have as much time on the field before the game as they will have Tuesday when they play the day’s first game.
“(Shortstop Alex Bregman) looked shaky and had a very poor pregame infield,” Mainieri said. “He committed three errors, which he never does.”
That carried over into the game: Bregman’s error in the eighth inning allowed the decisive run to score.
Mainieri was perturbed that the Tigers had 13 flyouts against UCLA, mostly against right-hander Adam Plutko, who’s a flyball pitcher.
Plutko enticed hitters to swing at his high fastball in a ballpark that rarely yields home runs. Mason Katz hit a homer for LSU’s only run as he pulled the ball down the left-field line, but otherwise fly balls were harmless.
Mainieri said the Tigers started preparing for Plutko last Monday by having batting practice with a pitching machine throwing pitches higher than normal — “between the belly button and the chest.”
“We worked all week to keep the ball out of the air,” Mainieri said. “We wanted them to take pitches and get used to the sensation of laying off those pitches — or if they did swing, to stay on top of the ball and not hit it into the air.
“Then the game started.”
LSU is 2-2 all-time against North Carolina, the teams’ most recent meeting coming in the 2008 CWS. The Tar Heels won both games against the Tigers in Omaha that year, 8-4 and 7-3. … Hitting coach Javi Sanchez didn’t join the team in Omaha until Saturday night after spending several days in Minneapolis checking out potential recruits at a nationwide camp. … The Tigers won a coin toss with UNC and will be the home team Tuesday.
Advocate sportswriter Scott Rabalais contributed to this report.