BATON ROUGE, La. — The LSU baseball team’s bullpen is taking as many hits as its giving up these days.
Less than a month after losing setup man Doug Norman to Tommy John surgery and less than a week after watching Alden Cartwright retire because of recurring injuries, LSU’s bullpen faces its most devastating injury yet. LSU baseball coach Paul Mainieri announced Thursday that closer Hunter Newman is out indefinitely, expected to miss anywhere from two to six weeks, with a back injury.
Mainieri first mentioned Newman’s back injury Wednesday night, saying that he was unavailable to pitch in LSU’s 15-inning game versus UNO. In 7 2/3 innings of work this season, Newman has a 1.17 ERA with 10 strikeouts, 4 walks and 7 hits allowed.
Now, LSU will have to roll without its most reliable relief pitcher at the most crucial junction of the season. The Tigers begin SEC play on Friday with a three-game home series versus Georgia. Next weekend, LSU faces an even more difficult test, traveling to Gainesville to face the Florida Gators in an SEC Championship rematch from last year.
Without Newman, Mainieri said sophomore Caleb Gilbert will work as LSU’s closer. Gilbert has thrown 14 1/3 innings this season, making one start. He struck out 18 batters while walking 2. As an interesting point of comparison, Gilbert’s 18:2 strikeout-to-walk ratio is the same as three-time SEC Pitcher of the Week Jared Poché has this season.
LSU opens this weekend’s series against Georgia at 7 p.m. CT at Alex Box Stadium. The game will be streamed on WatchESPN and the SEC Network Plus and can be heard on the LSU Sports Radio Network and Eagle 98.1 FM Baton Rouge. Saturday’s game is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. CT. Sunday’s first pitch will be at 1 p.m. CT.