Versatility is something that senior utility-man Austin Bain is becoming know for on this year’s LSU baseball team.
After spending most of his career as a relief pitcher, Bain has seen his role expand to new heights this season. The 6-foot-1, 188-pound senior is taking advantage of his opportunities as LSU’s primary designated-hitter.
Bain has seen significant time at designated-hitter this season after spending his last two seasons trying to figure out a role on the team. Surgery for a bone spur on his throwing shoulder caused Bain’s role on the team to diminish as he struggled to find his form on the mound.
A depleted infield and a search for depth presented an opportunity for LSU coach Paul Mainieri to experiment with Bain as the designated-hitter. The move by Mainieri not only gives LSU much-needed depth along the infield but also gives the Tigers a capable bat if Bain is called upon.
The struggles of Bain’s early career have turned into success this year as he holds a .333 batting average with a team-high seven doubles and one home run. Bain is fourth on the team in hits with 16 and has 11 RBIs on the season.
The most memorable hit of Bain’s career came on his lone home run of the season. On a 3-0 count, Bain got the greenlight and launched the Tigers’ longest home run of the season off the camera’s in the deepest part of center-field at Alex Box Stadium.
Coming off the bat of an LSU pitcher is something Bain thinks will help give him some credit with the team.
“That is pretty cool,” Bain said of his home run. “That will give me some leeway in the locker room.”
“I’m not surprised Bain hit that ball out, I watch him do it in practice everyday,” Mainieri said. “That ball was where
Deichmann used to hit them off the camera well I think. He was pretty excited about that 3-0 pitch, he teed off on it that’s for sure.”
Bain’s bat has earned high praise from Mainieri and has positioned him to earn a role as a rotational first baseman when Mainieri is looking to get his best bats in the lineup. Bain made the first starts of his career at first base against Hawaii going 4-8 with four RBI’s and four runs. The senior has thrived in any role he has been put in this season, even improving his approach on the mound.
The transition back to a two-way player, something Bain thrived at during his high school days at Dutchtown, has Bain pitching as well as he ever has. Bain has appeared in six games as a relief pitcher, allowing only one earned run in 6.2 innings pitched.
Bain’s many talents on the baseball field have finally gotten their chance to shine as not only a pitcher, but also as a dynamic hitter in LSU’s lineup.
A relief pitcher suddenly getting time as the starting designated-hitter and rotational first baseman may raise some eyebrows to people outside of team, but for Bain’s teammates, it’s something they always knew he could handle.
“We’ve always given him a hard time about how he’s so good at all of these random things,” said junior pitcher Caleb Gilbert. “There’s no surprise he’s going out there and putting the bat on the ball and having some great at-bats for us.”