AUBURN – Other than a six-inning summer league stint last year, Auburn junior Zach Blatt has not started a game on the mound since his senior year at Opelika High School.
Zach Blatt gets his first start tongiht at LSU
That will change tonight in most fearsome of places. He’ll be on the mound when Auburn plays LSU at Alex Box Stadium in Baton Rouge. He’ll face off with LSU freshman Kurt McCune, 5-1 with a 1.80 ERA.
Blatt, 1-2 with two saves and a 6.53 ERA, came on in the second inning and pitched 5 1/3 strong innings Friday night as Auburn swept a three-game series at Kentucky last Friday. He’s had other strong outings out of the bullpen and some shaky ones.
But he got the word from head coach John Pawlowski earlier in the week that he’d get the ball tonight.
“I’m definitely excited,” Blatt said. “I never figured I’d start. I was kind of shocked, but it’s something I’ve always wanted to do.”
After Andrew Morris was knocked early on back-to-back Friday nights, Pawlowski decided it was time to give Blatt a chance.
“He had a tremendous high school career,” Pawlowski said. “He’s a guy that is a competitor. He can go 100-plus pitches. He’s a tough competitor and wants to be out there. We thought about him before as a possible starter, but when he went out there and did what he did Friday night it makes you stop and think.”
After losing six straight SEC games, the Tigers (18-14, 5-7) jumped back into the heat of the West Division race with last weekend’s sweep of Kentucky. LSU (22-12, 3-9) lost three down-to-the-wire games at Arkansas and could fall out of contention if it loses the series to Auburn.
“Their crowd is going to bring it like they always do,” Blatt said. “They are going to be out to get us. I’m just going to have to go as hard as I can and I deep as I can.”