BATON ROUGE, La. — In perhaps the most important game of the season, LSU baseball is turning to its left-hander.
Sophomore southpaw Nick Bush will get the start when LSU opens the Corvallis Regional against San Diego State on Friday. In 42⅔ innings pitched in 2018, Bush has posted a 3.16 ERA with 40 strikeouts and 15 walks. He’s thrown predominantly out of the bullpen but has started four times, including allowing 1 run in 11 innings in SEC starts against South Carolina and Alabama.
Bush threw twice in the SEC Tournament for LSU, earning a 2-inning save in the semifinals against Arkansas and allowing 2 runs in 3 innings in a subpar start against Mississippi State. Among LSU pitchers who have thrown at least 40 innings this season, Bush has the lowest ERA.
In San Diego State, Bush will face an opponent not easily fazed by left-handed pitching. The Aztecs are 10-4 this season in games started by left-handed pitchers, compared to 29-15 against right-handers.
The decision to start Bush likely relates to LSU baseball coach Paul Mainieri’s reluctance to use his two most reliable starters. Ace Zack Hess threw 147 pitches in the SEC Tournament and would only be on five-day rest by Friday, compared to his customary six-day rest schedule. And freshman right-hander Ma’Khail Hilliard has been experiencing arm tightness since his turn in the SEC Tournament last Wednesday and didn’t throw again until Monday, pushing his preparation regimen off schedule.
LSU coach Paul Mainieri explains why lefty Nick Bush will get the ball for regional Game 1 against San Diego State pic.twitter.com/0a2P7imzq6
— Alex Hickey (@bigahickey) May 30, 2018
LSU will face San Diego State on Friday in Corvallis, Ore., at 3 p.m. CT. The game will be televised on ESPNU and available to stream online through WatchESPN. Baton Rouge residents will be able to listen to the game on local radio through 98.1 FM.
With a win, LSU will advance to face the winner of the game between Oregon State and Northwestern State. With a loss, LSU would face the loser of that game in an elimination contest.