LSU baseball: The lighter side of a no-hitter and dads with prophecies –

Welcome to “Out of the Box,” SEC Country’s weekly LSU baseball column, with LSU beat writer Nick Suss. Today we discuss the awesomeness that was Jared Poché’s no-hitter, LSU’s impressive youth movement and why sons should always listen to their fathers. Batter up!

When Poché comes to shove…

It was an opening weekend that LSU baseball players and fans alike won’t soon forget.

In the second leg of Saturday’s rain-forced doubleheader, senior left-hander Jared Poché tossed LSU’s first complete-game no-hitter since 1979. Sure, Poché pitched only seven innings. But the way he was throwing, I’m fully confident he could’ve thrown 12 innings and still given up only a run or two.

So what — other than how to put an accent aigu on an “é” using a keyboard — did we learn about the LSU baseball team from Poché’s showing? Here’s what I observed.

1. 6-3 is A-OK

If it weren’t for Kramer Robertson and Jake Slaughter, Poché would’ve just thrown a pretty good game and we wouldn’t be talking about it any more than Alex Lange’s shutout earlier that afternoon.

Robertson and Slaughter were in an absolute zone in this game, combining on seven putouts. About half of those putouts would’ve been ruled hits — not errors — if Robertson’s throw or Slaughter’s stretch were mistimed. They were hard-hit balls in hard-to-reach places. But the pair made every play.

Slaughter and Robertson walk the walk. But don’t think Robertson doesn’t talk the talk, too. Just ask right fielder Greg Deichmann what Robertson was like in the dugout between the sixth and seventh innings.

“Kramer was kind of running up and whispering in people’s ears saying, ‘Diving bodies. Anything close, you have to get it,’” Deichmann remembered. “It creeps in your minds.”

2. Shaving cream tastes worse than ice water feels

Fast forward to the 1-minute mark to watch Robertson smash shaving cream into Poché’s face. And keep listening to 1:07 to hear my uncomfortable laughter at the whole situation.

I was experiencing some shaving cream schadenfreude. Because Poché tried to play off the shaving cream prank like it was no big deal. He even continued answering my question immediately after he was coated. But then some got in his mouth. And he blurted out, “That tastes terrible.”

Poché barely reacted when he got doused with ice water. (I barely got out of the way. It was so close I didn’t get it on video. Guess I didn’t #DoItForTheVine.) But the shaving cream got him. Would’ve guessed it would’ve been the other way around.

3. Poché believes in jinxes

After the game, Robertson told me that Poché is a talkative pitcher who likes to chat with his teammates between innings. But, since there’s an unwritten rule of baseball that says you’re not allowed to talk to a pitcher during a no-hitter, Poché was left alone in the back corner of the dugout to sit in silence.

Poché told me that was uncomfortable and unsettling, but he appreciates his teammates trying not to jinx him. He also said that he went against the jinx at the end of the game when he celebrated before third baseman Josh Smith even threw the ball to Slaughter for the last out. He was nervous he was going to jinx it, but finishing off a no-hitter just felt too good.

Listen to your dad

Poché spent the Friday before his first start at Walk On’s with his dad. While at the restaurant, the elder Poché left his son with a message.

“The crazy thing is, my dad said at Walk On’s yesterday, he said, ‘You can throw a no-hitter,’” Poché said. “I was like, ‘Why are you saying that? Why put that on me. Now I’m going to get hit all around the ballpark today.’ Next thing you know, I did it.”

But Poché wasn’t the only guy who should’ve listened to his father’s prophecy. Deichmann, fresh off surgery to repair his fractured cheekbone, also had some fatherly wisdom that came in handy when he homered in his first at-bat of the season.

“My dad was talking to me after the surgery,” Deichmann said. “He was like, ‘How cool would it be if you did this?’ I’m just trying to go out there and play. But for it to actually happen, that’s great.”

For his efforts as a sage, Deichmann’s father was rewarded with his son’s home run ball.

So fresh, so clean

Between Slaughter, Smith and Sunday starter Eric Walker, the LSU baseball team saw yeoman’s efforts from its new core of freshmen this weekend.

Slaughter and Smith are respectively batting .500 and .429 so far, with both notching home runs in their first series as collegians. Not to mention the defense, which was excellent for two players who aren’t natural corner infielders.

Not to be overshadowed, Walker allowed two runs, one earned, in 5 innings of work Sunday, setting down Air Force batters 1-2-3 in four of his five innings. Walker retired the first 10 batters he faced, netting 5 strikeouts over that period. In all, Walker delivered 72 pitches and landed 48 for strikes, giving up just two hits and walking one.

Elsewhere in the SEC

The LSU baseball team is one of five SEC programs that opened up the 2017 campaign with a series sweep. Included in that group are Florida, Texas A&M, Ole Miss and Arkansas.

South Carolina and Vanderbilt, two other teams expected to rank among the top 10 this year alongside LSU, lost one game apiece versus UNC Greensboro and San Diego, respectively.

Who’s got next? — This week in LSU baseball

LSU plays two midweek games this week. The Tigers start with a road contest against University of New Orleans on Tuesday before returning home Wednesday to face Hofstra.

Sophomore Caleb Gilbert, who threw one scoreless inning Saturday in relief of Alex Lange, is expected to start the Tuesday game. LSU baseball coach Paul Mainieri indicated that Wednesday has the potential to be a “bullpen game,” or a game where no pitcher throws more than two or three innings.

Freshman Zack Hess will take care of the start Wednesday. Hess allowed one run and two hits while striking out two in one inning of work Sunday. The one run came off a home run that doinked off the left-field foul pole. Hess told SEC Country after Sunday’s game that he doesn’t expect to be on any stricter of a pitch count than Poché or Walker were despite the shorter rest, meaning he should be available to go 70-80 pitches.

Thanks for reading “Out of the Box.” Come back next Monday for more LSU baseball news.


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