BATON ROUGE, La. -- LSU got a crash course that things aren't always so easy in the first round of the postseason, even against those pesky four seeds.
Call it uninspired baseball or an impressive performance by Jackson State, but LSU struggled in its opening game of the Baton Rouge Regional, beating the other Tigers 11-7 in a contest that was wild, and rather ugly, from the start.
"That was … I'm not real sure what adjective to use [to describe the game]," Mainieri said, at a loss of words about his team's performance. "That was one of the most painful games we've had. That was a rough game, a tough game, and pretty much nothing went by script."
The contest against Jackson State only added to the news of the last 24 hours for LSU. LSU announced Thursday night that very good starting pitcher Cody Glenn would miss this weekend because of a violation of team rules. Mainieri wouldn't elaborate about the rules broken, only saying that Glenn's situation will be reevaluated after the weekend, and calling the situation a poor personal choice.
With Glenn's situation in limbo, and there being a chance he doesn't return the rest of the 2013 campaign, the Tigers desperately need all of their arms to be consistent -- especially right-handed junior Ryan Eades.
Eades raised some red flags a couple of weeks ago here in Baton Rouge when he allowed five runs on seven hits in four innings of work against Ole Miss. But he seemed to respond well last weekend at the Southeastern Conference tournament, striking out four and allowing just two runs on four hits in seven innings in a win over Alabama.
Those warning signs returned Friday against Jackson State. Eades wasn't sharp against the Tigers, hitting two batters in the game, walking three more, allowing two runs and only lasting 2/13 innings in the contest. Things got bad enough at one point, Eades threw two pitches over batter's heads and to the backstop.
"It was one of those days where he could never find a rhythm. He was having trouble with how wet his hands were from sweat," Mainieri said. "He's pitched pretty well for us all-year long, he just picked a bad time to have a bad day."
While Eades struggled, the Tigers were able to lean on veteran right-handed pitcher Kurt McCune. McCune hadn't thrown more than four innings this season before Friday. But against JSU, he was a savior for Mainieri's club, striking out five batters, walking no one and allowing just four hits in 4 2/3 innings of work. McCune was the lone bright spot for the LSU pitching staff, which combined for seven walks and three hit batters.
"To be honest with you, he hit some spots. It wasn't the velocity all the time, but it was him being able to locate well," Jackson State coach Omar Johnson said. "He made some big-time pitches in the game and gave them an opportunity to take control with some runs later in the game."
LSU senior first baseman Mason Katz led the offensive show for the Tigers, going 2-for-2 with a home run to straight center field and four RBIs, while leadoff hitter Sean McMullen went 3-for-4 with two runs scored and an RBI. Third baseman Christian Ibarra, who was forced to move to shortstop after Alex Bregman's injury, recorded two hits in the game, while Jared Foster had a pinch-hit home run in the contest.
Others also stepped up as the Tigers secured an ugly victory over Jackson State. But a situation to watch moving forward are injuries to left fielder Raph Rhymes and shortstop Alex Bregman. In the top of the fourth inning, Bregman went out to left field to catch a fly all, only to collide with Rhymes. Bregman was shaken up, while Rhymes laid motionless on the turf for a couple of innings.
Both Rhymes and Bregman left the contest with injuries. Rhymes should be fine, while Bregman went to the hospital to have some tests done, presumably to check for a possible concussion and to inspect some bones in his face.
Bregman tweeted out: "I'm playing tomorrow" late Friday night, so that's at least some good news for LSU fans, though, Mainieri hasn't announced either will play in the winner's bracket game against Sam Houston State, but did say late Friday night that Bregman suffered no facial fractures and will be reevaluated before Saturday's game against the Bearkats.
It's safe to say the past 24 hours haven't been too kind to the fourth national seed LSU Tigers. But they've got a win in the Baton Rouge Regional, and at the end of the day, that's all that really matters.
Tomorrow is a new day in Baton Rouge. Look for LSU to be ready to answer the call with sophomore right-handed pitcher Aaron Nola on the mound.