LSU Gold

LSU Opens Fall Baseball Practice on Sunday

by Bill Franques
LSU Opens Fall Baseball Practice on Sunday

BATON ROUGE, La. – The 2019 LSU baseball squad will take the field for the first time at 2 p.m. CT on Sunday as the Tigers begin their six-week fall practice period in Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field.

The fall practice session, which will feature several intra-squad scrimmages, culminates with the annual Purple-Gold World Series November 1-4. All of the fall practice games, scrimmages and workouts in Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field are free and open to the public.

A new NCAA rule allows the Tigers to play two exhibition games this fall against another school. LSU will play a two-game exhibition series against the University of New Orleans – Game 1 will be on Sunday, October 14, at 3 p.m. CT in Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field, and Game 2 will be on Saturday, October 27, at 1 p.m. CT at UNO’s Maestri Field.

The Tigers, who have been engaged since late August in strength and conditioning drills and individual workouts, begin the 2019 season on February 15, when LSU plays host to Louisiana-Monroe in Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field.

LSU’s home schedule features a three-game series versus California of the Pac-12 and SEC series matchups against Kentucky, Texas A&M, Florida, Ole Miss and Auburn. The Tigers’ slate is also highlighted by a three-game series at Texas in early March.
Coach Paul Mainieri, entering his 13th season at LSU, said that fall practice is significant in the growth of his team.

“The fall session is always vital in the development of our players as we begin to mold them into a team,” said Mainieri, who will enter the 2019 season ranked No. 3 on the active NCAA Division I coaches wins list with 1,415 career victories in 36 seasons at St. Thomas, Air Force, Notre Dame and LSU. “We have a tremendous group of returning veteran players combined with the No. 1 recruiting class in the country, so we’re excited to begin the process of building the 2019 Tigers.”

LSU returns seven position players who have filled everyday starting roles, including outfielders Antoine Duplantis, Zach Watson and Daniel Cabrera, infielders Josh Smith, Brandt Broussard and Hal Hughes, and designated hitter Bryce Jordan.

The pitching staff features junior right-hander Zack Hess, the Tigers’ No. 1 weekend starter in 2018, and sophomore right-hander Eric Walker, a 2017 Freshman All-American who was sidelined last season due to Tommy John surgery.

The staff is bolstered by the return of sophomore starting right-handers Ma’Khail Hilliard and AJ Labas, who combined for 15 wins last season. The bullpen includes a corps of outstanding right-handed relievers, including senior Caleb Gilbert, juniors Todd Peterson and Matthew Beck, and sophomore Devin Fontenot.

The Tigers’ talented 16-man recruiting class – voted No. 1 in the nation by Baseball America last week – is composed of nine pitchers and seven position players, and it contains seven players that have been chosen in an MLB Draft – outfielder Giovanni DiGiacomo, catcher Saul Garza, left-handed pitcher Easton McMurray, right-handed pitcher Landon Marceaux, right-handed pitcher Cole Henry, right-handed pitcher Jaden Hill and catcher/outfielder CJ Willis.

“Our fall intra-squad games are extremely competitive,” Mainieri explained. “The new players will be challenged throughout the fall as they learn what it takes to uphold the LSU standard and contend for championships.”