Normally when an LSU pitching line includes giving up only three hits and one run in 8 2/3 innings of work, the name behind the gem is automatically assumed to be junior Aaron Nola.
In a 2-1 Tigers’ victory on Saturday night in Alex Box stadium, though, it was freshman southpaw Jared Poche’ sitting down his Southeastern Conference rivals.
“Jared Poche’ was just awesome,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. “You saw the evolution of an SEC pitcher. You saw a guy who had great command. He threw his fastball with extra incentive. He was finishing his pitches, he threw curveballs for strikes whenever he wanted to [and] he made big pitches when he needed to. That’s the kid that was the Gatorade Player of the Year last year in Louisiana.”
Poche’ entered the top of the of the sixth inning without having allowed a base hit. Georgia scratched its first one off on a ground ball to sophomore shortstop Alex Bregman in the frame.
Georgia ended the inning with a run on the board, but that was all Poche’ allowed.
The Lutcher, La., native recorded six strikeouts on 102 pitches, lowering his ERA to 1.91 and improving his record to 5-1 in 2014.
“He just oozes being a winner,” Mainieri said. “It’s the way he talks, it’s the way his body language is, it’s how he responds when something negative happens. He doesn’t hang his head. He just keeps fighting hard. Players have confidence playing behind a pitcher like that.”
Saturday night’s outing definitely looked a tad different than his previous outing against Vanderbilt – he tossed 4 1/3 innings of four run baseball against the Commodores, walking five.
Picking up his first SEC victory was exactly what he needed.
“I struggled a bit against Vanderbilt, so I just kind of wanted to get back to myself and throw strikes,” Poche’ said. “My fastball command was huge tonight.”
Georgia countered Poche’ with a stud true freshman on its roster – Robert Tyler’s first pitch in the bottom of the first inning clocked in at 97 mph.
It caught LSU senior left fielder Sean McMullen off guard, but McMullen recovered to rope a leadoff triple into the right field corner.
McMullen’s hit was one of the only solid knocks the Tigers were able to muster
“It was gas,” McMullen said. “I looked up at the scoreboard and it was 97 [mph]. We didn’t have that on the scouting report. He was very impressive. That kid really battled, and he’s going to be really good for Georgia.”
An RBI groundout by junior designated hitter Kade Scivicque later brought McMullen home, and the Tigers struck for a second run in the bottom of the fifth on a Laird RBI single.
Tyler finished with 7 2/3 innings pitched, surrendering only five hits and one earned run. He struck out four LSU batters.
Mainieri said he would discuss with LSU pitching coach Alan Dunn which starter would take the mound for the Tigers in Sunday’s finale.
Junior southpaw Kyle Bouman suffered an ankle injury last week, and he has been ruled out for Sunday’s start.