Paul Mainieri feels excited for the first-year students in LSU’s lineup, and it’s easy to understand why after Game 1 of the Purple-Gold World Series.
First baseman Tre ‘Morgan, right-hander Dylan Crews and third baseman Will Safford triggered a four-run first round on Wednesday night for the Gold Team, which consisted of LSU’s best hitters, in the first of three intrasquad scrimmages that marked the end of the fall practice.
“I’ve seen this every day from these guys,” said Mainieri, who watched the fight from the pressure box to isolate himself before his second neck operation in less than a year on November 16.
Still, Purple Team ruined the night, winning 7-6 when sophomore Mitchell Sanford hit a game-winning single with two outs. Purple Team scored seven races in the last two innings against novice-right-handed Brooks Rice. Sanford’s teammates tore off his shirt and poured ice water over his back.
While the Southeast Conference has not made a final decision regarding the baseball season 2021, LSU coach Paul Mainieri feels confident …
While Sanford won the match, the trio Morgan, Crews and Safford collected five hits, three RBIs and three runs. They combined to go 5 for 10 with two extra basic hits.
Busy in the middle of LSU’s line-up, the first-year students led an outburst in the first instance against junior right-hander AJ Labas, a solidified member of the weekend’s rotation who almost threw a no-hitter last season.
“We know AJ Labas is going to be an outstanding pitcher for us,” said Mainieri.
With one out and one runner on the first, Morgan contaminated four straight lanes with two strikes against him before hitting a single into midfield. Crews soon hit an opposite field triple down the first baseline. Two races scored. Then Safford doubled into the right field with two strikes. Crew scores easily. The round ended because Labas reached the limit of 25 pitches. LSU awarded Safford a race.
If LSU baseball season started tomorrow, the Tigers would start three newcomers: Dylan Crews, Tre ‘Morgan and Will Safford.
“At-bats by Tre ‘Morgan and Will Safford, who are fighting two strikes,” Mainieri said, “it was really exciting.”
Although Labas settled down in a rhythm, throwing two pointless rounds to end the outing, the early injury supported the Gold Team in six rounds. The pitchers, led by novice Garrett Edwards, did not allow races until the sixth.
Mainieri fantasized about the three beginners the day before. They stood out during the exercises last month, their talent and ability helped establish themselves as probable starters when LSU’s season begins next February.
In a lineup that LSU would have used if Wednesday was the opening day, Mainieri placed the first-year students in the top 6 hitters. Morgan beat third. Crew hit fifth. Safford followed one place behind him.
Hundreds of Southeastern Conference baseball parents sent a letter Thursday to Commissioner Greg Sankey asking the league to arrange a full schedule next spring amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Cooled for the first time after the dam’s first round. Morgan singled once on a hit-and-run, knocked out and grounded. The crew struck a blow from the field and struck twice. Safford struck, hit a single in the infield and left. They played solid defense, although Morgan unusually missed a choice on the seventh that would have won the game.
“The discrepancy will show,” Mainieri said. “We have to show a lot of patience with these little kids, there is no doubt about it.”
LSU can start as many as five first-year students next spring, with shortstop Jordan Thompson and outfielder Brody Drost also pushing for playing time. Mainieri knows that their ability to adapt to the college game will largely determine LSU’s season, but he thinks they can handle the adjustment.
If the first inning on Wednesday gave any indications, they may not need long.