Series Primer: No. 23 Ole Miss

LSU (46-7, 21-6) will be hosting Ole Miss (35-18, 14-13) this weekend for the final SEC series of the 2013 regular season. The Tigers will have a new pitching rotation on the mound and it should be a great matchup between two of the top teams in the conference.

No. 2 LSU (46-7, 21-6) is set to host the 23rd-ranked Rebels of Ole Miss (35-18, 14-13) for the final regular season SEC series of 2013 beginning on Thursday night at 6:30 p.m. in Alex Box Stadium. The Tigers have already locked up the SEC West and don't have enough games remaining in the schedule to catch Vanderbilt in the overall conference standings.

This weekend will be a great opportunity for LSU coach Paul Mainieri to get his bench players some playing time, as the time is quickly approaching when he will have to decide who will be left off of the postseason roster for the Tigers. Mainieri is expecting another tough series for the Tigers this weekend.

"With the SEC West now locked up, it gives me the ability to do some different things this weekend," said Mainieri. "But, we are just going to take things one game at a time and try to continue the good things that we have been doing against a very good Ole Miss team." The series with Ole Miss will also be the final regular season series in Alex Box Stadium for LSU's eight seniors. Senior Mason Katz explained that while it will be sad to go through the senior day ceremonies, it is comforting for him to know that it won't be his last game in The Box.

"I can't believe that it's all coming to an end," said Katz. "It will be sad this weekend going through everything, but it makes me feel better that this definitely won't be our last game in Alex Box."

Mainieri is very thankful for the seniors that will be playing their final regular season game in Baton Rouge this weekend and he believes that they deserve tremendous recognition.

"This team is very similar to the 2009 team," said Mainieri. "It's very odd to have this many seniors that contribute because most leave after their junior year for professional baseball. I count my lucky stars every day that Mason Katz and Raph Rhymes are still on this team. They should receive good recognition this weekend."

Heading into the weekend, the LSU offense has started to find their identity again, after suffering from a lack of consistency over the last several weeks. Freshman Alex Bregman leads the way for the Tigers at the plate with a .393 average and five homeruns. Katz is second on the team with a .380 batting average. He leads the team in homeruns with 13, but hasn't hit one in well over a month.

LSU has also gotten some increased production out of junior JaCoby Jones in recent weeks as his average is now up to .290. As a whole, the LSU lineup is hitting .312 on the season, good enough for 13th in the nation.

The Ole Miss offensive attack isn't as solid as LSU's from top to bottom, but the Rebels definitely have some players in the their order that can swing it. Junior Stuart Turner is leading the Rebels with an average of .389. The former Eunice High School (La.) standout has also hit five homeruns in 2013. After Turner, things drop off pretty quickly for Ole Miss. As a team, the Rebels enter the weekend with an overall average of .277.

The key to this weekend will be which offense is able to strike first, especially because Ole Miss has been known to struggle at times with producing runs.

On the pitching front, LSU will put a temporary rotation on the mound this weekend. Following four-straight complete games and a long outing against Texas A&M last weekend, it was announced this week that sophomore Aaron Nola would be getting the week off from pitching. Not much will change for LSU, except that junior Kurt McCune will now get the start in place of Nola on Friday night for the Tigers. Sophomore Cody Glenn will once again open the series and junior Ryan Eades will go on Saturday.

"I'm not expecting Kurt [McCune] to go out there and pitch seven innings," said Mainieri. "If he gives us three to five I'll be happy. Other than that, things will be pretty normal. We're going to use the bullpen this weekend as well. I want the Saturday game to be like a midweek game for out staff."

Glenn has been very impressive in recent weeks on the mound and LSU's Mainieri is very confident in the left-hander getting the job done once again this weekend.

"Cody has pitched magnificently for most of the year," said Mainieri. "Before he had really established himself, we weren't sure if his bumps in the road were just bumps in the road. He has gained the confidence of the entire staff and he should have a good game this week. He will also pitch game two of the SEC Tournament."

Ole Miss will put a very impressive starting rotation on the mound this weekend. Junior Mike Mayers will go on Thursday night against Glenn. Mayers has compiled a record of 4-4 with a 2.87 ERA in 75.1 innings. Sophomore Sam Smith will get the start on Friday and he enters the weekend with a record of 3-0 and an ERA of 3.15 through 54.1 innings. Junior Bobby Wahl will finish things up on Satruday against Eades. Wahl is without a doubt the ace of the Rebel pitching staff as he is 9-0 with a 1.43 ERA in 88 innings on the mound.


Here is a full list of pitching matchups, times of interest and television information for the weekend.

Game 1 – Thursday 6:30 p.m. – ESPNU

LSU – SO LHP Cody Glenn (5-2, 2.78 ERA, 68.0 IP, 33 SO)
Ole Miss – JR RHP Mike Mayers (4-4, 2.87 ERA, 75.1 IP, 59 SO)

Game 2 – Friday 7:00 p.m. – CST

LSU – JR RHP Kurt McCune (3-1, 3.38 ERA, 13.1 IP, 8 SO)
Ole Miss – SO RHP Sam Smith (3-0, 3.15 ERA, 54.1 IP, 27 SO)

Game 3 – Saturday 12:00 p.m. – CBS Sports Network

LSU – JR RHP Ryan Eades (8-1, 2.29 ERA, 82.2 IP, 69 SO)
Ole Miss – JR RHP Bobby Wahl (9-0, 1.43 ERA, 88.0 IP, 73 SO)


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